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Learning in anticipation of reward and punishment: perspectives across the human lifespan

Betts, MJ; Richter, A; de Boer, L; Tegelbeckers, J; Perosa, V; Baumann, V; Chowdhury, R; ... Krauel, K; + view all (2020) Learning in anticipation of reward and punishment: perspectives across the human lifespan. Neurobiology of Aging , 96 pp. 49-57. 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.08.011.

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Abstract

Learning to act to receive reward and to withhold to avoid punishment has been found to be easier than learning the opposite contingencies in young adults. To what extent this type of behavioral adaptation might develop during childhood and adolescence and differ during aging remains unclear. We therefore tested 247 healthy individuals across the human life span (7-80 years) with an orthogonalized valenced go/no-go learning task. Computational modeling revealed that peak performance in young adults was attributable to greater sensitivity to both reward and punishment. However, in children and adolescents, we observed an increased bias toward action but not reward sensitivity. By contrast, reduced learning in midlife and older adults was accompanied by decreased reward sensitivity and especially punishment sensitivity along with an age-related increase in the Pavlovian bias. These findings reveal distinct motivation-dependent learning capabilities across the human life span, which cannot be probed using conventional go/reward no-go/punishment style paradigms that have important implications in lifelong education.

Type: Article
Title: Learning in anticipation of reward and punishment: perspectives across the human lifespan
Location: United States
DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.08.011
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2020.08.0...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Action, Instrumental learning, Lifespan, Pavlovian bias, Reward
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114488
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