The neural mechanisms underlying the influence of pavlovian cues on human decision making.

Computation and Neural Systems, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 06/2008; 28(22):5861-6. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0897-08.2008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In outcome-specific transfer, pavlovian cues that are predictive of specific outcomes bias action choice toward actions associated with those outcomes. This transfer occurs despite no explicit training of the instrumental actions in the presence of pavlovian cues. The neural substrates of this effect in humans are unknown. To address this, we scanned 23 human subjects with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they made choices between different liquid food rewards in the presence of pavlovian cues previously associated with one of these outcomes. We found behavioral evidence of outcome-specific transfer effects in our subjects, as well as differential blood oxygenation level-dependent activity in a region of ventrolateral putamen when subjects chose, respectively, actions consistent and inconsistent with the pavlovian-predicted outcome. Our results suggest that choosing an action incompatible with a pavlovian-predicted outcome might require the inhibition of feasible but nonselected action-outcome associations. The results of this study are relevant for understanding how marketing actions can affect consumer choice behavior as well as for how environmental cues can influence drug-seeking behavior in addiction.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) paradigm probes the influence of Pavlovian cues over instrumentally learned behavior. The paradigm has been used extensively to probe basic cognitive and motivational processes in studies of animal learning. More recently, PIT and its underlying neural basis have been extended to investigations in humans. These initial neuroimaging studies of PIT have focused on the influence of appetitively conditioned stimuli on instrumental responses maintained by positive reinforcement, and highlight the involvement of the striatum. In the current study, we sought to understand the neural correlates of PIT in an aversive Pavlovian learning situation when instrumental responding was maintained through negative reinforcement. Participants exhibited specific PIT, wherein selective increases in instrumental responding to conditioned stimuli occurred when the stimulus signaled a specific aversive outcome whose omission negatively reinforced the instrumental response. Additionally, a general PIT effect was observed such that when a stimulus was associated with a different aversive outcome than was used to negatively reinforce instrumental behavior, the presence of that stimulus caused a non-selective increase in overall instrumental responding. Both specific and general PIT behavioral effects correlated with increased activation in corticostriatal circuitry, particularly in the striatum, a region involved in cognitive and motivational processes. These results suggest that avoidance-based PIT utilizes a similar neural mechanism to that seen with PIT in an appetitive context, which has implications for understanding mechanisms of drug-seeking behavior during addiction and relapse.
    European Journal of Neuroscience 10/2013; DOI:10.1111/ejn.12377 · 3.67 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is widely held that the interaction between instrumental and Pavlovian conditioning induces powerful motivational biases. Pavlovian-Instrumental Transfer (PIT) is one of the key paradigms demonstrating this effect, which can further be decomposed into a general and specific component. Although these two forms of PIT have been studied at the level of amygdalar subregions in rodents, it is still unknown whether they involve different areas of the human amygdala. Using a high-resolution fMRI (hr-fMRI) protocol optimized for the amygdala in combination with a novel free operant task designed to elicit effects of both general and specific PIT, we demonstrate that a region of ventral amygdala within the boundaries of the basolateral complex and the ventrolateral putamen are involved in specific PIT, while a region of dorsal amygdala within the boundaries of the centromedial complex is involved in general PIT. These results add to a burgeoning literature indicating different functional contributions for these different amygdalar subregions in reward-processing and motivation.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 06/2012; 32(24):8383-90. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6237-11.2012 · 6.75 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In reinforcer-selective transfer, Pavlovian stimuli that are predictive of specific outcomes bias performance toward responses associated with those outcomes. Although this phenomenon has been extensively examined in rodents, recent assessments have extended to humans. Using a stock market paradigm adults were trained to associate particular symbols and responses with particular currencies. During the first test, individuals showed a preference for responding on actions associated with the same outcome as that predicted by the presented stimulus (i.e., a reinforcer-selective transfer effect). In the second test of the experiment, one of the currencies was devalued. We found it notable that this served to reduce responses to those stimuli associated with the devalued currency. This finding is in contrast to that typically observed in rodent studies, and suggests that participants in this task represented the sensory features that differentiate the reinforcers and their value during reinforcer-selective transfer. These results are discussed in terms of implications for understanding associative learning processes in humans and the ability of reward-paired cues to direct adaptive and maladaptive behavior.
    Journal of Experimental Psychology Animal Behavior Processes 07/2010; 36(3):402-8. DOI:10.1037/a0017876 · 1.76 Impact Factor