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Exploratory attentional resource allocation by the anterior prefrontal cortex
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) ;
Allocation of attention enables us to focus on the task at hand. However, in a constantly changing environment it is also necessary to explore the environment for the adaptive reallocation of resources. The anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC) is regarded as a decisive part of a neurocognitive circuit for the neuronal realization of exploratory resource allocation in human and non-human primates. However, rodents (with their less differentiated frontal cortex) also show exploratory resource allocation. We plan to investigate the neural processes of exploratory attentional resource shifts on the macro-scale and meso-scale across humans and Mongolian gerbils. We utilize a novel, complementary foraging paradigm in both species based on exploitation / exploration trade-offs and record brain activity from the aPFC with respect to its local micro- and widespread macro-circuitry. Moreover, there is emerging evidence that exploratory attention is diminished in old age revealed by-sometimes perseverative- exploitative behaviour. Exploratory resource allocation is also likely to be a prerequisite for successful transfer of learning. This will be investigated in collaboration with other subprojects of the CRC.

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