People and other animals learn the values of choices by observing the contingencies between them and their outcomes. However, decisions are not guided by choice-linked reward associations alone; macaques also maintain a memory of the general, average reward rate – the global reward state – in an environment. Remarkably, global reward state affects the way that each choice outcome is valued and ... [Show full abstract] influences future decisions so that the impact of both choice success and failure is different in rich and poor environments. Successful choices are more likely to be repeated but this is especially the case in rich environments. Unsuccessful choices are more likely to be abandoned but this is especially likely in poor environments. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) revealed two distinct patterns of activity, one in anterior insula and one in the dorsal raphe nucleus, that track global reward state as well as specific outcome events. Wittmann and colleagues show that not only single outcome events but also the global reward state (GRS) impact learning in macaques; low GRS drives explorative choices. Analyses of macaque BOLD signal reveals that GRS impacts activity in the anterior insula as well as the dorsal raphe nucleus.