Tricomi E, Balleine BW, O’Doherty JP. A specific role for posterior dorsolateral striatum in human habit learning. Eur J Neurosci 29: 2225-2232

Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102, USA.
European Journal of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.18). 06/2009; 29(11):2225-32. DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06796.x
Source: PubMed


Habits are characterized by an insensitivity to their consequences and, as such, can be distinguished from goal-directed actions. The neural basis of the development of demonstrably outcome-insensitive habitual actions in humans has not been previously characterized. In this experiment, we show that extensive training on a free-operant task reduces the sensitivity of participants' behavior to a reduction in outcome value. Analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data acquired during training revealed a significant increase in task-related cue sensitivity in a right posterior putamen-globus pallidus region as training progressed. These results provide evidence for a shift from goal-directed to habit-based control of instrumental actions in humans, and suggest that cue-driven activation in a specific region of dorsolateral posterior putamen may contribute to the habitual control of behavior in humans.

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    • "Practicing sequences of finger movements for days or weeks decreased brain activation in areas associated with goal-directed control [e.g., premotor and prefrontal cortical areas, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and associative BG territories] and increased activation in the sensorimotor network, including the putamen (e.g., Lehéricy et al. 2005, Steele & Penhune 2010). Participants who developed a lever-pressing habit for potato chips and candy over three days of training showed similar increases in activity in the sensorimotor striatum (posterior putamen) both within practice days as well as across days (Tricomi et al. 2009). Neuroimaging studies of motor sequence learning further confirmed the role of the sensorimotor striatum in chunk formation, along with a frontoparietal network and the mediotemporal lobes (Lungu et al. 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: As the proverbial creatures of habit, people tend to repeat the same behaviors in recurring contexts. This review characterizes habits in terms of their cognitive, motivational, and neurobiological properties. In so doing, we identify three ways that habits interface with deliberate goal pursuit: First, habits form as people pursue goals by repeating the same responses in a given context. Second, as outlined in computational models, habits and deliberate goal pursuit guide actions synergistically, although habits are the efficient, default mode of response. Third, people tend to infer from the frequency of habit performance that the behavior must have been intended. We conclude by applying insights from habit research to understand stress and addiction as well as the design of effective interventions to change health and consumer behaviors. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Psychology Volume 67 is January 03, 2016. Please see for revised estimates.
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    • "Thus, if the involvement of the putamen in S-R learning dissipates after a period of stable habitual performance, Tricomi et al. (2009) may not have sampled behavior beyond that stable period, whereas our accelerated habitual learning paradigm allowed us to do so. It is also worth noting , that, whereas Tricomi et al. (2009) reported effects in a small area in the very far posterior putamen, our effects extend throughout the right putamen and globus pallidus. One feature of the present results is that areas in which discriminatory neural activity was correlated with between-subject variation in devaluation insensitivity did not also show differential main effects in a comparison of S-R and R-O conditions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Considerable behavioral data indicate that operant actions can become habitual, as demonstrated by insensitivity to changes in the action-outcome contingency and in subjective outcome values. Notably, although several studies have investigated the neural substrates of habits, none has clearly differentiated the areas of the human brain that support habit formation from those that implement habitual control. We scanned participants with functional magnetic resonance imaging as they learned and performed an operant task in which the conditional structure of the environment encouraged either goal-directed encoding of the consequences of actions, or a habit-like mapping of actions to antecedent cues. Participants were also scanned during a subsequent assessment of insensitivity to outcome devaluation. We identified dissociable roles of the cerebellum and ventral striatum, across learning and test performance, in behavioral insensitivity to outcome devaluation. We also showed that the inferior parietal lobule (an area previously implicated in several aspects of goal-directed action selection, including the attribution of intent and awareness of agency) predicted sensitivity to outcome devaluation. Finally, we revealed a potential functional homology between the human subgenual cortex and rodent infralimbic cortex in the implementation of habitual control. In summary, our findings suggested a broad systems division, at the cortical and subcortical levels, between brain areas mediating the encoding and expression of action-outcome and stimulus-response associations. © 2015 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · European Journal of Neuroscience
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    • "In contrast, if the habit system has gained control over action, an individual should continue to respond in both valued and devalued conditions at a cost of 1¢ per trial. To exclude the possibility that new learning contributed to devaluation test performance, outcomes were not shown to participants during the test stage (Figure 2A) (de Wit & Dickinson, 2009; Tricomi et al., 2009). Participants were warned about this change in task procedure, told that they would not longer see the result of their choices (i.e. "
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    ABSTRACT: Studies in humans and rodents have suggested that behavior can at times be “goal-directed”—that is, planned, and purposeful—and at times “habitual”—that is, inflexible and automatically evoked by stimuli. This distinction is central to conceptions of pathological compulsion, as in drug abuse and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Evidence for the distinction has primarily come from outcome devaluation studies, in which the sensitivity of a previously learned behavior to motivational change is used to assay the dominance of habits versus goal-directed actions. However, little is known about how habits and goal-directed control arise. Specifically, in the present study we sought to reveal the trial-by-trial dynamics of instrumental learning that would promote, and protect against, developing habits. In two complementary experiments with independent samples, participants completed a sequential decision task that dissociated two computational-learning mechanisms, model-based and model-free. We then tested for habits by devaluing one of the rewards that had reinforced behavior. In each case, we found that individual differences in model-based learning predicted the participants’ subsequent sensitivity to outcome devaluation, suggesting that an associative mechanism underlies a bias toward habit formation in healthy individuals. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.3758/s13415-015-0347-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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