Prefrontal neurons transmit signals to parietal neurons that reflect executive control of cognition

Nature Neuroscience - 2013-09-01Crowe D, Goodwin SJ, Blackman R, Sakellaridi S, Sponheim S, MacDonald III AW, Chafee M10.1038/nn.3509
Prefrontal cortex influences behavior largely through its connections with other association cortices; however, the nature of the information conveyed by prefrontal output signals and what effect these signals have on computations performed by target structures is largely unknown. To address these questions, we simultaneously recorded the activity of neurons in prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices of monkeys performing a rule-based spatial categorization task. Parietal cortex receives direct prefrontal input, and parietal neurons, like their prefrontal counterparts, exhibit signals that reflect rule-based cognitive processing in this task. By analyzing rapid fluctuations in the cognitive information encoded by activity in the two areas, we obtained evidence that signals reflecting rule-dependent categories were selectively transmitted in a top-down direction from prefrontal to parietal neurons, suggesting that prefrontal output is important for the executive control of distributed cognitive processing.