The anterior medial prefrontal cortex (AMPC) in humans is involved in affect and in regulating goal-directed behaviors. The precise function of the AMPC, however, is poorly understood. Using magnetic resonance imaging, we found that bilateral regions in the AMPC were selectively recruited to compute the reliability of subjects' expectations that developed when subjects were learning sequences of cognitive tasks. In contrast, regions similarly recruited in learning sequences of motor acts were found in the ventral striatum. Our results show that beyond the execution of motor acts, the AMPC is selectively engaged in computing the relevance of cognitive goals that subjects intend to achieve. This indicates that the fronto-striatal circuit, including the ventral striatum and AMPC, subserves hierarchically distinct evaluative processes mediating the human ability to build behavioral plans, ranging from motor to cognitive action plans.
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