Article

Frontal Networks for Learning and Executing Arbitrary Stimulus-Response Associations

Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 04/2005; 25(10):2723-32. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3697-04.2005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Flexible rule learning, a behavior with obvious adaptive value, is known to depend on an intact prefrontal cortex (PFC). One simple, yet powerful, form of such learning consists of forming arbitrary stimulus-response (S-R) associations. A variety of evidence from monkey and human studies suggests that the PFC plays an important role in both forming new S-R associations and in using learned rules to select the contextually appropriate response to a particular stimulus cue. Although monkey lesion studies more strongly implicate the ventrolateral PFC (vlPFC) in S-R learning, clinical data and neurophysiology studies have implicated both the vlPFC and the dorsolateral region (dlPFC) in associative rule learning. Previous human imaging studies of S-R learning tasks, however, have not demonstrated involvement of the dlPFC. This may be because of the design of previous imaging studies, which used few stimuli and used explicitly stated one-to-one S-R mapping rules that were usually practiced before scanning. Humans learn these rules very quickly, limiting the ability of imaging techniques to capture activity related to rule acquisition. To address these issues, we performed functional magnetic resonance imaging while subjects learned by trial and error to associate sets of abstract visual stimuli with arbitrary manual responses. Successful learning of this task required discernment of a categorical type of S-R rule in a block design expected to yield sustained rule representation. Our results show that distinct components of the dorsolateral, ventrolateral, and anterior PFC, lateral premotor cortex, supplementary motor area, and the striatum are involved in learning versus executing categorical S-R rules.

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Available from: Charlotte A Boettiger, Aug 08, 2015
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    • "Previous research suggests that functions discussed above might also apply to the right caudate nucleus. Specifically, it might have been involved in representing S–R rules (Toni and Passingham 1999; Passingham et al. 2000; Toni et al. 2001; Boettiger and D'Esposito 2005) and/or selecting (Schumacher et al. 2003; Gerardin et al. 2004; Wager et al. 2005; van Eimeren et al. 2006; Amiez et al. 2012) and reprogramming (Mars et al. 2007) the relevant response appropriate to the target. These possible functions would be relied on less during CON compared with INC trials. "
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    • "Electrophysiological and neuropsychological studies in nonhuman primates have identified regions that support both the acquisition and the retention of conditional visuomotor associations, including the medial temporal lobe (MTL) (Murray and Wise 1996; Wise and Murray 1999, 2000; Brasted et al. 2003; Wirth et al. 2003; Yanike et al. 2009), premotor cortex (Halsband and Passingham 1985; Mitz et al. 1991; Brasted and Wise 2004; Buch et al. 2006), prefrontal cortex (Murray et al. 2000; Wang et al. 2000; Bussey et al. 2001; Pasupathy and Miller 2005; Histed et al. 2009), and the striatum (Canavan et al. 1989; Hadj-Bouziane and Boussaoud 2003; Hadj- Bouziane et al. 2003, 2006; Brasted and Wise 2004; Nixon et al. 2004; Pasupathy and Miller 2005; Buch et al. 2006; Williams and Eskandar 2006; Histed et al. 2009). fMRI studies utilizing arbitrary associative learning tasks have reported changes in cerebral blood flow across a similar network of regions (Toni et al. 2001; Eliassen et al. 2003; Boettiger and D'Esposito 2005; Law et al. 2005; Grol et al. 2006; Hanakawa et al. 2006; Haruno and Kawato 2006; Brovelli et al. 2008). Many of the regions identified in these studies were posited to support learning via different computational goals. "
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