Adaptation to changing environments involves the appropriate extraction of environmental information to achieve a behavioral goal. It remains unclear how behavioral flexibility is guided under situations where the relevant behavior is ambiguous. Using functional brain mapping of machine learning decoders and directional functional connectivity, we show that brain-wide reversible neural signaling underpins task encoding and behavioral flexibility in ambiguously changing environments. When relevant behavior is cued ambiguously during behavioral shifting, neural coding is attenuated in distributed cortical regions, but top-down signals from the prefrontal cortex complement the coding. When behavioral shifting is cued more explicitly, modality-specialized occipitotemporal regions implement distinct neural coding about relevant behavior, and bottom-up signals from the occipitotemporal region to the prefrontal cortex supplement the behavioral shift. These results suggest that our adaptation to an ever-changing world is orchestrated by the alternation of top-down and bottom-up signaling in the fronto-occipitotemporal circuit depending on the availability of environmental information.
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