Ben Eppinger

Ben Eppinger
Concordia University Montreal · Department of Psychology

Professor

About

70
Publications
9,776
Reads
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1,780
Citations
Citations since 2016
39 Research Items
1145 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
2016201720182019202020212022050100150200
Additional affiliations
May 2022 - May 2022
University of Greifswald
Position
  • Professor
November 2013 - July 2016
Technische Universität Dresden
Position
  • Junior Professor

Publications

Publications (70)
Article
Prevalence-induced concept change describes a cognitive mechanism by which someone's definition of a concept shifts as the prevalence of instances of that concept changes. While this phenomenon has been established in young adults, it is unclear how it affects older adults. In this study, we explore how prevalence-induced concept change affects old...
Article
Body dissatisfaction is pervasive among young women in Western countries. Among the many forces that contribute to body dissatisfaction, the overrepresentation of thin bodies in visual media has received notable attention. In this study, we proposed that prevalence-induced concept change may be one of the cognitive mechanisms that explain how beaut...
Article
Full-text available
Humans show metacontrol of decision making, that is they adapt their reliance on decision-making strategies toward situational differences such as differences in reward magnitude. Specifically, when higher rewards are at stake, individuals increase reliance on a more accurate but cognitively effortful strategy. We investigated whether the personali...
Article
Under high cognitive demands, older adults tend to resort to simpler, habitual, or model-free decision strategies. This age-related shift in decision behavior has been attributed to deficits in the representation of the cognitive maps, or state spaces, necessary for more complex model-based decision-making. Yet, the neural mechanisms behind this sh...
Article
Previous work suggests that lifespan developmental differences in cognitive control reflect maturational and aging-related changes in prefrontal cortex functioning. However, complementary explanations exist: It could be that children and older adults differ from younger adults in how they balance the effort of engaging in control against its potent...
Article
Full-text available
The development of metacontrol of decision making and its susceptibility to framing effects were investigated in a sample of 201 adolescents and adults in Germany (12–25 years, 111 female, ethnicity not recorded). In a task that dissociates model‐free and model‐based decision making, outcome magnitude and outcome valence were manipulated. Both adol...
Preprint
Previous work suggests that lifespan developmental differences in cognitive control reflect maturational and aging-related changes in prefrontal cortex functioning. However, complementary explanations exist: It could be that children and older adults differ from younger adults in how they balance the effort of engaging in control against its potent...
Article
Research in the past decades shed light on the different mechanisms that underlie our capacity for cognitive control. However, the meta-level processes that regulate cognitive control itself remain poorly understood. Following the terminology from artificial intelligence, meta-control can be defined as a collection of mechanisms that (a) monitor th...
Article
Full-text available
When under high cognitive demand older adults tend to resort to simpler, model-free decision strategies. This age-related shift in decision behaviour has been attributed to deficits in the representation of the cognitive maps, or state spaces, necessary for more complex model-based decision-making. Yet, the neural mechanism behind this shift remain...
Article
Over the last decade, research on cognitive control and decision‐making has revealed that individuals weigh the costs and benefits of engaging in or refraining from control and that whether and how they engage in these cost–benefit analyses may change across development and during healthy aging. In the present article, we examine how lifespan age d...
Article
Decoding others’ intentions accurately in order to adapt one's own behavior is pivotal throughout life. In this study, we asked how younger and older adults deal with uncertainty in dynamic social environments. We used an advice-taking paradigm together with Bayesian modelling to characterize effects of aging on learning about others’ time-varying...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over the last decade, research on cognitive control and decision-making has revealed that individuals weigh the costs and benefits of engaging in or refraining from control and that whether and how they engage in these cost-benefit analyses may change across development and during healthy aging. In the present article, we examine how lifespan age d...
Preprint
Full-text available
Prevalence-induced concept change describes a cognitive mechanism by which someone’s definition of a concept shifts as the prevalence of instances of that concept changes. The phenomenon has real-world implications because this sensitivity to environmental characteristics may lead to substantial biases in judgements. While prevalence-induced concep...
Preprint
Full-text available
Learning is pervasive across the human lifespan and essential for adaptive behavior. Children and older adults are often slower to learn cognitive tasks than young adults. Here we build on established theory formalizing learning as predictive inference and consider the possibility that age-related learning differences emerge from satisficing in thi...
Preprint
Across the lifespan, humans rely on the ability to learn from new experiences to adapt to uncertain and changing environments. Here we investigated age-related differences in the reliance on default-belief settings during learning in these environments. We collected behavioral data with a predictive-inference task in children, adolescents as well a...
Preprint
Prevalence-induced concept change describes a cognitive mechanism by which someone’s definition of a concept shifts as the prevalence of instances of that concept changes. While this phenomenon has been established in young adults, it is unclear how it affects older adults. In this study, we explore how prevalence-induced concept change affects old...
Preprint
Humans show metacontrol of decision-making towards different reward magnitudes. Specifically, when higher rewards are at stake, individuals increase reliance on a more accurate but cognitively effortful strategy. We investigated whether the personality trait Need for Cognition (NFC) explains individual differences in metacontrol. Based on findings...
Preprint
Metacontrol refers to the human ability to dynamically adapt decision-making strategies to changes in internal and external demands. In this study, we investigated the development of metacontrol from adolescence into young adulthood as well as developmental differences in the sensitivity of metacontrol to framing effects. Adolescents and young adul...
Preprint
Previous work suggests that lifespan developmental differences in cognitive control abilitiesmight be due to maturational and aging-related changes in prefrontal cortex functioning.However, there are other explanations: For example, it could be that children and older adults differ from younger adults in how they balance the effort of engaging in c...
Article
Full-text available
Humans employ different strategies when making decisions. Previous research has reported reduced reliance on model-based strategies with aging, but it remains unclear whether this is due to cognitive or motivational factors. Moreover, it is not clear how aging affects the metacontrol of decision making, i.e. the dynamic adaptation of decision-makin...
Poster
Full-text available
Younger adults' decision-making behavior is often a combination of model-free (MF) and model-based (MB) decision strategies. In contrast, older adults seem to primarily rely on MF strategies. This age-related shift in decision strategies has been interpreted in terms of a deficit in the representation of transition structures necessary for MB decis...
Preprint
Full-text available
When making decisions, humans employ different strategies which are commonly formalized as model-free and model-based reinforcement learning. While previous research has reported reduced model-based control with aging, it remains unclear whether this is due to limited cognitive capacities or a reduced willingness to engage in an effortful strategy....
Preprint
When making decisions, humans employ different strategies which are commonly formalized as model-free and model-based reinforcement learning. While previous research has reported reduced model-based control with aging, it remains unclear whether this is due to limited cognitive capacities or a reduced willingness to engage in an effortful strategy....
Preprint
Decoding others’ intentions accurately in order to adapt one’s own behavior remains pivotal throughout life. Yet, it is a process that is imbued with uncertainty since others’ intentions are not directly observable and may change over time. In this study, we asked the question of how younger and older adults deal with uncertainty in dynamic social...
Article
Adolescence is a period of life in which social influences-particularly if they come from peers-play a critical role in shaping learning and decision preferences. Recent studies in adults show evidence of a risk contagion effect; that is, individual risk preferences are modulated by observing and learning from others' risk-related decisions. In thi...
Article
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter in action control. However, influential theories of dopamine function make conflicting predictions about the effect of boosting dopamine neurotransmission. Here, we tested if increases in dopamine tone by administration of L-DOPA upregulate reward learning as predicted by reinforcement learning theories, and if in...
Article
Learning from vicarious experience is central for educational practice, but not well understood with respect to its ontogenetic development and underlying neural dynamics. In this age-comparative study we compared behavioral and electrophysiological markers of learning from vicarious and one's own experience in children (age 8-10) and young adults....
Article
Full-text available
Research in younger adults dissociates cognitive from affective facets of social information processing, rather than promoting a monolithic view of social intelligence. An influential theory on adult development suggests differential effects of aging on cognitive and affective functions. However, this dissociation has not been directly tested in th...
Article
Adaptive behavior in daily life often requires the ability to acquire and represent sequential contingencies between actions and the associated outcomes. Although accumulating evidence implicates the role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in complex value-based learning and decision-making, direct evidence for involvements of this region in...
Article
Full-text available
Our ability to learn from the outcomes of our actions and to adapt our decisions accordingly changes over the course of the human lifespan. In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in using computational models to understand developmental changes in learning and decision-making. Moreover, extensions of these models are currently appli...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, the application of computational modeling in studies on age-related changes in decision making and learning has gained in popularity. One advantage of computational models is that they provide access to latent variables that cannot be directly observed from behavior. In combination with experimental manipulations, these latent vari...
Article
Full-text available
Older decision-makers may capitalize on their greater experiences in financial decisions and by this offset decline in cognitive abilities. However, this pattern of results should reverse in situations that place high demands on cognitive control functions. In this study, we investigated how decision conflict affects the neural mechanisms of intert...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, we investigated the interplay of habitual (model-free) and goal-directed (model-based) decision processes by using a two-stage Markov decision task in combination with event-related potentials (ERPs) and computational modeling. To manipulate the demands on model-based decision making, we applied two experimental conditions with diffe...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter in reinforcement learning and action control. Recent findings suggest that these components are inherently entangled. Here, we tested if increases in dopamine tone by administration of L-DOPA upregulate deliberative “model-based” control of behavior or reflexive “model-free” control as predicted by dual-control re...
Article
Full-text available
Healthy aging can lead to impairments in learning that affect many laboratory and real-life tasks. These tasks often involve the acquisition of dynamic contingencies, which requires adjusting the rate of learning to environmental statistics. For example, learning rate should increase when expectations are uncertain (uncertainty), outcomes are surpr...
Article
Full-text available
Mather and colleagues provide an impressive cross-level account of how arousal levels modulate behavior, and they support it with data ranging from receptor pharmacology to measures of cognitive function. Here we consider two related questions: (1) Why should the brain engage in different arousal levels? and (2) What are the predicted consequences...
Chapter
Full-text available
Recent findings suggest that older adults show decision-making deficits in situations that involve learning about the expected value of choice outcomes. In this chapter we provide a link between these age-related impairments in decision-making and age-related deficits in different types of reinforcement learning. We will focus on age-related change...
Article
Observational learning is an important mechanism for cognitive and social development. However, the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying observational learning in children are not well understood. In this study, we used a probabilistic reward-based observational learning paradigm to compare behavioral and electrophysiological markers of individ...
Article
Full-text available
Foresighted decision-making depends on the ability to learn the value of future outcomes and the sequential choices necessary to achieve them. Using a 3-stage Markov decision task and functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated age differences in the ability to extract state transition structures while learning to predict future reward....
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Background / Purpose: We investigated how decision conflict affects intertemporal decision preferences and the associated neural systems in younger and older adults. Main conclusion: The results show a double dissociation between age group and conflict. Whereas younger adults show more deliberate intertemporal decision-making under conflict, o...
Article
Full-text available
Children and older adults often show less favorable reward-based learning and decision making, relative to younger adults. It is unknown, however, whether reward-based processes that influence relatively early perceptual and attentional processes show similar lifespan differences. In this study, we investigated whether stimulus-reward associations...
Article
Full-text available
In this study we investigated age-related and individual differences in habitual (model-free) and goal-directed (model-based) decision-making. Specifically, we were interested in three questions. First, does age affect the balance between model-based and model-free decision mechanisms? Second, are these age-related changes due to age differences in...
Article
Full-text available
We examined whether older adults differ from younger adults in how they learn from rewarding and aversive outcomes. Human participants were asked to either learn to choose actions that lead to monetary reward or learn to avoid actions that lead to monetary losses. To examine age differences in the neurophysiological mechanisms of learning, we appli...
Article
Full-text available
Foresighted decision-making depends on the ability to learn the value of future outcomes and the sequential choices necessary to achieve them. Using a 3-stage Markov decision task and functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated age differences in the ability to extract state transition structures while learning to predict future reward....
Conference Paper
We suggest a multivariate genotype-phenotype association test for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. The method uses a voxel selection and ranking scheme based on iterative adaptive Lasso for defining a functional region of interest. A classifier-based test is used to assess the significance of potential associations between the dif...
Article
Full-text available
We examined whether older adults differ from younger adults in the degree to which they favor immediate over delayed rewards during decision-making. To examine the neural correlates of age-related differences in delay discounting we acquired functional MR images while participants made decisions between smaller but sooner and larger but later monet...
Data
Results of the parametric RT-fMRI analysis. This analysis revealed significant correlations between RT and activity in the four major components of the delta system (dlPFC, SMA, INS and IPL) for immediate (t = 4.5, p<.0001, >20 voxels), as well as delayed choices (t = 3.6, p<.001, >20 voxels). These results show that even within individuals longer...
Data
Time courses for areas associated with the delta system (dlPFC = dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, IPL = inferior parietal lobe, Ins = Insula, SMA = supplementary motor area) and the beta system (vmPFC = ventromedial PFC, PCC = posterior cingulate cortex) shown separately for younger adults (black) and older (grey) adults. The x-axis shows time after...
Data
Subgroup analyses. A) Left: Subgroups of younger and older adults (N = 9 for each group) that were matched for discounting behavior. Right: Significant age main effect for the matched subgroups for choice options involving immediate reward in the ventral striatum (t-statistics, significant at p<.005, >20 voxels). B) Left: Subgroups of younger and o...
Data
Contrast between immediate choice options (involving reward today) and delayed options (involving only delayed reward). A) Across age groups this contrast revealed similar, although less robust activations for immediate reward in the medial prefrontal cortex and ventro-medial prefrontal cortex. Talairach coordinates: MFG: −6, 52, 27; vmPFC: −4, 52,...
Article
Full-text available
In many instances, children and older adults show similar difficulties in reward-based learning and outcome monitoring. These impairments are most pronounced in situations in which reward is uncertain (e.g., probabilistic reward schedules) and if outcome information is ambiguous (e.g., the relative value of outcomes has to be learned). Furthermore,...
Article
In this paper, we review the current literature to highlight relations between age-associated declines in dopaminergic and serotonergic neuromodulation and adult age differences in adaptive goal-directed behavior. Specifically, we focus on evidence suggesting that deficits in neuromodulation contribute to older adults' behavioral disadvantages in l...
Article
Full-text available
Older adults are impaired in reinforcement learning (RL) when feedback is partially ambiguous (e.g., Eppinger and Kray, 2011). In this study we examined whether older adults benefit from salient feedback information during learning. We used an electrophysiological approach and investigated 15 younger and 15 older adults with a RL task in which they...
Chapter
The flexible adaptation to changes in the environment is one important feature of intelligent behaviour and is associated with the ability to efficiently control one's own processing. Cognitive control refers to the ability to guide thoughts and actions in accord with internal task goals. Controlling one's own behaviour is particularly required in...
Article
We combined a feedback-based learning task with a recognition memory paradigm to investigate how reward-based learning affects the event-related potential (ERP) correlates of recognition memory in younger and older adults. We found that positive, but not negative learning improves memory and results in an increased early ERP old-new effect, which i...
Article
In this study, we investigated whether older adults learn more from bad than good choices than younger adults and whether this is reflected in the error-related negativity (ERN). We applied a feedback-based learning task with two learning conditions. In the positive learning condition, participants could learn to choose responses that lead to monet...
Article
This study examined developmental differences in the ERP correlates of internal and external error processing (ERN and FRN) during learning. A probabilistic learning task was applied in which feedback validity was manipulated. The behavioral data showed similar accuracy for children and adults when feedback was valid, whereas age differences were o...
Article
This study examined age differences in error processing and reinforcement learning. We were interested in whether the electrophysiological correlates of error processing, the error-related negativity (ERN) and the feedback-related negativity (FRN), reflect learning-related changes in younger and older adults. To do so, we applied a probabilistic le...
Thesis
The present thesis investigated age differences in reinforcement learning and error processing across the lifespan using an electrophysiological approach. The theoretical framework of this research is based on the so-called dopamine hypothesis of aging, which assumes that age-related impairments in learning and error processing are the result of de...
Article
This study investigates age differences in the flexible adaptation to changing demands on task switching and conflict processing. We applied a cued task-switching version of the Stroop task and manipulated the ratio of conflict trials. During task preparation, the P300 varied as a function of conflict ratio and a later positive component was larger...
Article
Costs of switching between tasks may disappear when subjects are able to learn associations between tasks, stimuli, and responses (cf. Rogers, R. D., & Monsell, S. (1995). Costs of a predictable switch between simple cognitive tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 124, 207-231). The first aim of this study was to examine this possibil...
Article
We examined age differences in event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with attentional control of task-set selection and response interference by means of a cue-based switching paradigm in which participants performed the color or word Stroop task. The results of ERPs in the cue interval indicated that P3 latencies were slowed for older adults,...
Article
The present thesis investigated age differences in reinforcement learning and error processing across the lifespan using an electrophysiological approach. The theoretical framework of this research is based on the so-called dopamine hypothesis of aging, which assumes that age-related impairments in learning and error processing are the result of de...

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