Prefrontal circuit organization for executive control.


Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


The essential role of executive control is to select the most appropriate behavior among other candidates depending on the sensory information (exogenous information) and on the subject's internal state (endogenous information). Here I review series of the evidence implicating that the rodent prefrontal cortex (PFC) evaluates and compares the expected outcome for candidate actions that are automatically primed by exogenous and endogenous information, and selects the most appropriate action while inhibiting the others, with different PFC subregions contributing to distinct aspects of the computation via differential recruitments of the distributed networks. The recurrent nature of the PFC networks further facilitates the computation by integrating bottom-up signals over a long timescale. I also overview the local circuit organization in the PFC, where vasoactive intestinal peptide-positive (VIP) GABAergic interneurons are tightly linked with the cholinergic system and play significant roles in regulating executive control signals. The empirical evidence inspires the disinhibitory module hypothesis of the PFC organization that a group of pyramidal neurons and interneurons forms a disinhibitory module with similar task-variable selectivity in the PFC, and long-range inputs and neuromodulations in these modules exert a distributed gain modulation of the ongoing executive control signals by adjusting VIP neuron activity.


Executive control,GABAergic interneuron,Memory-guided behavior,Prefrontal cortex,Rodent,Top-down signal,Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-positive interneuron,Working memory,