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Published October 2014 | public
Journal Article

Similarities and Differences in Reward and Avoidance Learning in OCD and Problem Gamblers


Learning to approach rewards (i.e., reward learning; RL) and to avoid punishers (i.e., avoidance learning; AL) is required to promote optimal responses and ensure our survival. For instance, AL is required in the face of basic threats (e.g., predators, rotten food), and when coupled with certain personality traits and decision-making patterns, also promotes optimal responses to more abstract threats in social (e.g., antagonists, competitors) and economic (e.g., risky investments) domains. However, difficulties or maladaptive patterns of AL and RL have been linked different forms of psychopathology. Indeed, AL is typically exaggerated in obsessive-compulsive disorder and reduced in substance and behavioural addictions (e.g., gambling), leading to differences in the anticipation and avoidance of aversive outcomes. In this talk, I will discuss the behavioural aspects of AL and RL (e.g., individual differences and temporal dynamics in learning from reward and punishment and prediction error) across OCD and problem gamblers using a newly developed task. I will then discuss how these individual differences are associated with the severity of the disorder, impulsive and compulsive personality tendencies, as well as fronto-striatal function.

Additional Information

© The Author 2014. Medical Council on Alcohol and Oxford University Press.

Additional details

August 20, 2023
October 17, 2023