Abstract

Everyday life typically requires behavior that involves far more than simple stimulus-response associations. Environmental cues are often ambiguous and require different actions depending on the situation. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is thought to be crucial for this flexible control of behavior. An important task that probes this ability is the antisaccade task in which subjects have to suppress a glance towards a suddenly presented peripheral stimulus and instead look away from the stimulus to its mirror location. Here we recorded the activity of PFC neurons in monkeys trained to alternate between blocks of prosaccade and antisaccade trials with no external instruction cues. We found that the activity of many neurons was different between the two tasks during the fixation period before the peripheral stimulus was presented. These differences were already present on the first correct trials after a task switch. The activity of these neurons also discriminated between correct responses and errors. We hypothesize that the PFC provides bias signals to saccade-related areas that are necessary to preset the oculomotor system for different tasks.

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