Simultaneous representation of a spectrum of dynamically changing value estimates during decision making.
Meder D., Kolling N., Verhagen L., Wittmann MK., Scholl J., Madsen KH., Hulme OJ., Behrens TEJ., Rushworth MFS.
Decisions are based on value expectations derived from experience. We show that dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and three other brain regions hold multiple representations of choice value based on different timescales of experience organized in terms of systematic gradients across the cortex. Some parts of each area represent value estimates based on recent reward experience while others represent value estimates based on experience over the longer term. The value estimates within these areas interact with one another according to their temporal scaling. Some aspects of the representations change dynamically as the environment changes. The spectrum of value estimates may act as a flexible selection mechanism for combining experience-derived value information with other aspects of value to allow flexible and adaptive decisions in changing environments.