The lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) has been implicated in visuospatial processing, especially when it is required to hold spatial information during a delay period. It has also been reported that the LPFC receives information about expected reward outcome. However, the interaction between visuospatial processing and reward processing is still unclear because the two types of processing could not be dissociated in conventional delayed response tasks. To examine this, we used a memory-guided saccade task with an asymmetric reward schedule and recorded 228 LPFC neurons. The position of the target cue indicated the spatial location for the following saccade and the color of the target cue indicated the reward outcome for a correct saccade. Activity of LPFC was classified into three main types: S-type activity carried only spatial signals, R-type activity carried only reward signals, and SR-type activity carried both. Therefore only SR-type cells were potentially involved in both visuospatial processing and reward processing. SR-type activity was enhanced (SR+) or depressed (SR-) by the reward expectation. The spatial discriminability as expressed by the transmitted information was improved by reward expectation in SR+ type. In contrast, when reward information was coded by an increase of activity in the reward-absent condition (SR- type), it did not improve the spatial representation. This activity appeared to be involved in gaze fixation. These results extend previous findings suggesting that the LPFC exerts dual influences based on predicted reward outcome: improvement of memory-guided saccades (when reward is expected) and suppression of inappropriate behavior (when reward is not expected).
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