The hippocampus is functionally connected to the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex during context dependent decision making
Many of our everyday actions are only appropriate in certain situations and selecting the appropriate behavior requires that we use current context and previous experience to guide our decisions. The current study examined hippocampal functional connectivity with prefrontal and striatal regions during a task that required participants to make decisions based on the contextual retrieval of overlapping sequential representations. Participants learned four sequences comprised of six faces each. An overlapping condition was created by having two sequences with two identical faces as the middle images. A non-overlapping condition contained two sequences that did not share any faces between them. Hippocampal functional connectivity was assessed during the presentation period and at the critical choice, where participants had to make a contextually dependent decision. The left hippocampus showed significantly increased functional connectivity with dorsal and ventral striatum and anterior cingulate cortexduring the presentation period of the overlapping compared to the non-overlapping condition after participants knew the sequences. At the critical choice point of the overlapping condition, the left hippocampus showed stronger functional connectivity with the orbitofrontal cortex. These functional connectivity results suggest that the hippocampus may play a role in decision making by predicting the possibilities of what might come next, allowing orbitofrontal and striatal regions to evaluate the expected choice options in order to make the correct action at the choice point.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Robert S. Ross, Katherine R. Sherrill, Chantal E. Stern, The hippocampus is functionally connected to the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex during context dependent decision making, Brain Research, Volume 1423, 14 November 2011, Pages 53-66, ISSN 0006-8993, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2011.09.038.