Economic Choices under Simultaneous or Sequential Offers Rely on the Same Neural Circuit

Weikang Shi, Sébastien Ballesta, Camillo Padoa-Schioppa

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6 Scopus citations


A series of studies in which monkeys chose between two juices offered in variable amounts identified in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) different groups of neurons encoding the value of individual options (offer value), the binary choice outcome (chosen juice), and the chosen value. These variables capture both the input and the output of the choice process, suggesting that the cell groups identified in OFC constitute the building blocks of a decision circuit. Several lines of evidence support this hypothesis. However, in previous experiments offers were presented simultaneously, raising the question of whether current notions generalize to when goods are presented or are examined in sequence. Recently, Ballesta and Padoa-Schioppa (2019) examined OFC activity under sequential offers. An analysis of neuronal responses across time windows revealed that a small number of cell groups encoded specific sequences of variables. These sequences appeared analogous to the variables identified under simultaneous offers, but the correspondence remained tentative. Thus, in the present study, we examined the relation between cell groups found under sequential versus simultaneous offers. We recorded from the OFC while monkeys chose between different juices. Trials with simultaneous and sequential offers were randomly interleaved in each session. We classified cells in each choice modality, and we examined the relation between the two classifications. We found a strong correspondence; in other words, the cell groups measured under simultaneous offers and under sequential offers were one and the same. This result indicates that economic choices under simultaneous or sequential offers rely on the same neural circuit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-43
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2022


  • decision making
  • monkey
  • neuroeconomics
  • orbitofrontal cortex
  • subjective value


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