Phase-amplitude coupling in rat orbitofrontal cortex discriminates between correct and incorrect decisions during associative learning

Marijn van Wingerden, Roemer van der Meij, Tobias Kalenscher, Eric Maris, Cyriel M.A. Pennartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Cross-frequency interactions between oscillations in local field potentials (LFPs) are thought to support communication between brain structures by temporally coordinating neural activity. It is unknown, however, whether such interactions differentiate between different levels of performance in decision-making tasks. Here, we investigated theta (4-12 Hz) to gamma (30-100 Hz) phase-amplitude coupling in LFP recordings from rat orbitofrontal cortex. Across subsequent periods of a task in which rats learned to discriminate two odors associated with positive and negative outcomes, theta-to-gamma phase-amplitude coupling (PAC) was highest during the odor-sampling task period that preceded a Go/NoGo decision. This task-dependent modulation could not be explained by changes in oscillatory power and appeared to be time-locked to odor onset, not to the timing of the behavioral response. We found that PAC strength during odor sampling correlated with learning, as indexed by improved performance across trials. Moreover, this increase in PAC magnitude was apparent only on trials with correct Go and NoGo decisions, but not incorrect Go decisions. In addition, we found that PAC preferred coupling phase showed consistency over sessions only for correct, but not incorrect trials. In conclusion, orbitofrontal cortex theta-gamma PAC strength differentiates between different levels of performance in an olfactory decision-making task and may play a role in the generation and utilization of stimulus-based outcome predictions, necessary for adaptive decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-505
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision-making
  • Learning
  • OFC
  • PAC
  • Rat
  • Tetrode


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