Effects of disrupting medial prefrontal cortex GABA transmission on decision-making in a rodent gambling task
Deficits in decision-making is a hallmark of several neuropsychiatric pathologies but is also observed in some healthy individuals that could be at risk to develop these pathologies. Poor decision-making can be revealed experimentally in humans using the Iowa gambling task, through the inability to select options that ensure long term gains over larger immediate gratification. We devised an analogous task in the rat, based on uncertainty and conflicting choices, the rat gambling task (RGT). It similarly reveals good and poor performers within a single session. Using this task, we investigated the role of three prefrontal cortical areas, the orbitofrontal, prelimbic, and cingulate cortices on decision-making, taking into account inter-individual variability in behavioral performances. Here, we show that these three distinct subregions are differentially engaged to solve the RGT. Cingulate cortex lesion mainly delayed good decision-making whereas prelimbic and orbitofrontal cortices induced different patterns of inadapted behaviors in the task, indicating varying degree of functional specialization of these three areas. Their contribution largely depended on the level of adaptability demonstrated by each individual to the constraint of the task. The inter-individual differences in the effect of prefrontal cortex area lesions on decision-making revealed in this study open new perspectives in the search for vulnerability markers to develop disorders related to executive dysfunctioning.