Neuronal categorization and discrimination of social behaviors in primate prefrontal cortex.
It has been implied that primates have an ability to categorize social behaviors between other individuals for the execution of adequate social-interactions. Since the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) is involved in both the categorization and the processing of social information, the primate LPFC may be involved in the categorization of social behaviors. To test this hypothesis, we examined neuronal activity in the LPFC of monkeys during presentations of two types of movies of social behaviors (grooming, mounting) and movies of plural monkeys without any eye- or body-contacts between them (no-contacts movies). Although the monkeys were not required to categorize and discriminate the movies in this task, a subset of neurons sampled from the LPFC showed a significantly different activity during the presentation of a specific type of social behaviors in comparison with the others. These neurons categorized social behaviors at the population level and, at the individual neuron level, the majority of the neurons discriminated each movie within the same category of social behaviors. Our findings suggest that a fraction of LPFC neurons process categorical and discriminative information of social behaviors, thereby contributing to the adaptation to social environments.