Prefrontal neuronal ensembles link prior knowledge with novel actions during flexible action selection
Have you ever wondered how we choose between familiar and novel options? For example, when we want to eat out, we can stick to our usual places or try something new. How do we make this decision? And how do our brains use what we already know to predict what we might work? In this study, Justin has designed a task to study this process in rats and show that cells in the medial prefrontal cortex spontaneously reactivate prior knowledge when the rats select new actions based on their expected consequences. During these brief periods, prefrontal cells coding prior knowledge fire together with those coding new actions. We propose that these neuronal ensemble dynamics support our ability to use prior knowledge to guide their choices even when we lack direct experiences.