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Journal Article

Neural representation of newly instructed rule identities during early implementation trials

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Schäfer,  Theo A. J.
TU Dresden, Germany;
Department Psychology (Doeller), MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Ruge_2019.pdf
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Citation

Ruge, H., Schäfer, T. A. J., Zwosta, K., Mohr, H., & Wolfensteller, U. (2019). Neural representation of newly instructed rule identities during early implementation trials. eLife, 8: e48293. doi:10.7554/eLife.48293.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-5DAC-2
Abstract
By following explicit instructions, humans instantaneously get the hang of tasks they have never performed before. We used a specially calibrated multivariate analysis technique to uncover the elusive representational states during the first few implementations of arbitrary rules such as ‘for coffee, press red button’ following their first-time instruction. Distributed activity patterns within the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) indicated the presence of neural representations specific of individual stimulus-response (S-R) rule identities, preferentially for conditions requiring the memorization of instructed S-R rules for correct performance. Identity-specific representations were detectable starting from the first implementation trial and continued to be present across early implementation trials. The increasingly fluent application of novel rule representations was channelled through increasing cooperation between VLPFC and anterior striatum. These findings inform representational theories on how the prefrontal cortex supports behavioral flexibility specifically by enabling the ad-hoc coding of newly instructed individual rule identities during their first-time implementation.