To be specific: The role of orbitofrontal cortex in signaling reward identity.

James D. Howard, Thorsten Kahnt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) plays a prominent role in signaling reward expectations. Two important features of rewards are their value (how good they are) and their specific identity (what they are). Whereas research on OFC has traditionally focused on reward value, recent findings point toward a pivotal role of reward identity in understanding OFC signaling and its contribution to behavior. Here, we review work in rodents, nonhuman primates, and humans on how the OFC represents expectations about the identity of rewards, and how these signals contribute to outcome-guided behavior. Moreover, we summarize recent findings suggesting that specific reward expectations in OFC are learned and updated by means of identity errors in the dopaminergic midbrain. We conclude by discussing how OFC encoding of specific rewards complements recent proposals that this region represents a cognitive map of relevant task states, which forms the basis for model-based behavior. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 18 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • decision-making
  • model-based
  • orbitofrontal cortex
  • outcome specific
  • reward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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