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Encoding of predictive associations in human prefrontal and medial temporal neurons during Pavlovian conditioning

Aquino, Tomas G. and Courellis, Hristos and Mamelak, Adam N. and Rutishauser, Ueli and O'Doherty, John P. (2023) Encoding of predictive associations in human prefrontal and medial temporal neurons during Pavlovian conditioning. . (Unpublished)

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Pavlovian conditioning is thought to involve the formation of learned associations between stimuli and values, and between stimuli and specific features of outcomes. Here we leveraged human single neuron recordings in ventromedial prefrontal, dorsomedial frontal, hippocampus and amygdala neurons while patients performed a sequential Pavlovian conditioning task containing both stimulus-value and stimulus-stimulus associations. Neurons in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex encoded predictive value along with the amygdala, but also encoded predictions about the identity of stimuli that would subsequently be presented, suggesting a role for neurons in this region in encoding predictive information beyond value. Unsigned error signals were found in dorsomedial prefrontal areas and hippocampus, potentially supporting learning of non-value related outcome features. Our findings implicate distinct human prefrontal and medial temporal neuronal populations in mediating predictive associations which could partially support model-based mechanisms during Pavlovian conditioning.Significance statementPavlovian conditioning is a fundamental form of learning, allowing organisms to associate stimuli and outcomes. Recent Pavlovian work suggests that phenomena such as devaluation sensitivity and sensory preconditioning can be explained by a model-based learning framework. How human neurons perform model-based learning during Pavlovian conditioning is still an open question. We recorded single neurons from epilepsy patients during a two-step Pavlovian conditioning task and found that ventromedial prefrontal neurons encoded expected rewards along with amygdala neurons, but also predicted the identity of upcoming stimuli as required for model-based cognition. Additionally, medial frontal neurons were found to encode error signals that could be used for stimulus-outcome learning. This is the first study mapping model-based computations during Pavlovian conditioning in human neurons.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Aquino, Tomas G.0000-0002-6944-1053
Mamelak, Adam N.0000-0002-4245-6431
Rutishauser, Ueli0000-0002-9207-7069
O'Doherty, John P.0000-0003-0016-3531
Additional Information:The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. The authors have declared no competing interest.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230316-182214000.21
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:120138
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:22 Mar 2023 00:28
Last Modified:22 Mar 2023 00:28

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