To further characterize the role of frontal and parietal cortices in rat cognition, we recorded action potentials simultaneously from multiple sites in the medio-dorsal frontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex of rats while they performed a two-choice auditory detection task. We quantified neural correlates of task performance, including response movements, perception of a target tone, and the differentiation between stimuli with distinct features (different pitches or durations). A minority of units—15% in frontal cortex, 23% in parietal cortex—significantly distinguished hit trials (successful detections, response movement to the right) from correct rejection trials (correct leftward response to the absence of the target tone). Estimating the contribution of movement-related activity to these responses suggested that more than half of these units were likely signaling correct perception of the auditory target, rather than merely movement direction. In addition, we found a smaller and mostly not overlapping population of units that differentiated stimuli based on task-irrelevant details. The detection-related spiking responses we observed suggest that correlates of perception in the rat are sparsely represented among neurons in the rat’s frontal-parietal network, without being concentrated preferentially in frontal or parietal areas.
Bohon KS, Wiest MC (2014) Role of Medio-Dorsal Frontal and Posterior Parietal Neurons during Auditory Detection Performance in Rats. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114064. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0114064