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Human Neural Learning Depends on Reward Prediction Errors in the Blocking Paradigm

Tobler, Philippe N. and O'Doherty, John P. and Dolan, Raymond J. and Schultz, Wolfram (2006) Human Neural Learning Depends on Reward Prediction Errors in the Blocking Paradigm. Journal of Neurophysiology, 95 (1). pp. 301-310. ISSN 0022-3077. PMCID PMC2637603. doi:10.1152/jn.00762.2005.

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Learning occurs when an outcome deviates from expectation (prediction error). According to formal learning theory, the defining paradigm demonstrating the role of prediction errors in learning is the blocking test. Here, a novel stimulus is blocked from learning when it is associated with a fully predicted outcome, presumably because the occurrence of the outcome fails to produce a prediction error. We investigated the role of prediction errors in human reward-directed learning using a blocking paradigm and measured brain activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants showed blocking of behavioral learning with juice rewards as predicted by learning theory. The medial orbitofrontal cortex and the ventral putamen showed significantly lower responses to blocked, compared with nonblocked, reward-predicting stimuli. In reward-predicting control situations, deactivations in orbitofrontal cortex and ventral putamen occurred at the time of unpredicted reward omissions. Responses in discrete parts of orbitofrontal cortex correlated with the degree of behavioral learning during, and after, the learning phase. These data suggest that learning in primary reward structures in the human brain correlates with prediction errors in a manner that complies with principles of formal learning theory.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
O'Doherty, John P.0000-0003-0016-3531
Dolan, Raymond J.0000-0001-9356-761X
Additional Information:© 2006 The American Physiological Society. Received 19 July 2005; Accepted 21 September 2005; Published online 1 January 2006; Published in print 1 January 2006. The study was supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Swiss National Science Foundation, and the Roche Research Foundation. R. J. Dolan is supported by a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant. The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact. We thank A. Dickinson and B. Seymour for helpful discussions and E. Featherstone for expert technical assistance.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)UNSPECIFIED
Roche Research FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:1
PubMed Central ID:PMC2637603
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181024-100926290
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Official Citation:Human Neural Learning Depends on Reward Prediction Errors in the Blocking Paradigm. Philippe N. Tobler, John P. O’Doherty, Raymond J. Dolan, and Wolfram Schultz. Journal of Neurophysiology 2006 95:1, 301-310
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90392
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Oct 2018 18:00
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:32

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