Zhang et al optogenetically activated the mouse cingulate region and found that it enhanced activity in primary visual cortex (V1), improved visual discrimination and increased center-surround effects.  This modulation was mediated by long-range projections that activated GABAergic (inhibitory) circuits in V1.  Thus, long-range projection from the frontal lobe may modulate sensory cortex via excitatory action on local inhibitory circuits.

Noudoost, Clark, and Moore deactivated the frontal eye fields (FEF) and recorded from visual cortical area V4.  This disrupted saccades to targets but *increased* pre-saccade activity in V4.  V4 neurons, however, showed reduced discrimination of the target stimulus.  It seems that the FEF provides details about the saccade target to visual cortex.

Eiselt and Nieder trained monkeys to make greater/less than judgments to line lengths and dot numerosities.  They compared neural activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), anterior cingulate (AC), and premotor cortex (PMC).  The greatest proportion of greater/less than rule neurons were found in the PFC.  Further, only the PFC had neurons that were “generalists”; they signaled the greater/less than rules for both judgments.  Neurons in other areas were specialized for one judgment or the other.

This is consistent with our work showing that a large proportion of PFC neurons are multifunction, mixed selectivity neurons.  They may be key in providing the computational power for complex, flexible behavior.  For further reading see:

Rigotti, M., Barak, O., Warden, M.R., Wang, X., Daw, N.D., Miller, E.K., & Fusi, S. (2013) “The importance of mixed selectivity in complex cognitive tasks”. Nature, 497, 585-590,  doi:10.1038/nature12160. View PDF

Cromer, J.A., Roy, J.E., and Miller, E.K. (2010) Representation of multiple, independent categories in the primate prefrontal cortex. Neuron, 66: 796-807. View PDF »

Michale Fee and crew review and synthesize three major models of basal ganglia output (disinhibition, rebound, and entrainment).