The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a heterogeneous area that is critical to reward-based decision-making. In particular, the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial PFC and orbitofrontal cortex are frequently implicated in different aspects of choice behaviour. These regions receive projections from midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons and, in turn, project to other key dopaminergic regions such as the striatum. However, our current understanding of the role of DA in reward-based processes is based mainly on studies of midbrain dopaminergic neurons and striatal DA release from nonhuman animal models. An important gap in the literature surrounds the precise functions of DA release in the PFC, particularly in humans. A priority for future research will be to integrate, both computationally and biologically, the seemingly disparate value representations across different nodes within the reward-processing network. Such models should aim to define the functional interactions between the PFC and basal ganglia, through which dopaminergic neurotransmission guides reward-based behaviour.
- anterior cingulate cortex
- corticostriatal pathway
- mesocortical pathway
- orbitofrontal cortex
- ventromedial prefrontal cortex