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Overcoming Pavlovian bias in semantic space

Ereira, S; Pujol, M; Guitart-Masip, M; Dolan, RJ; Kurth-Nelson, Z; (2021) Overcoming Pavlovian bias in semantic space. Scientific Reports , 11 (1) , Article 3416. 10.1038/s41598-021-82889-8. Green open access

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Abstract

Action is invigorated in the presence of reward-predicting stimuli and inhibited in the presence of punishment-predicting stimuli. Although valuable as a heuristic, this Pavlovian bias can also lead to maladaptive behaviour and is implicated in addiction. Here we explore whether Pavlovian bias can be overcome through training. Across five experiments, we find that Pavlovian bias is resistant to unlearning under most task configurations. However, we demonstrate that when subjects engage in instrumental learning in a verbal semantic space, as opposed to a motoric space, not only do they exhibit the typical Pavlovian bias, but this Pavlovian bias diminishes with training. Our results suggest that learning within the semantic space is necessary, but not sufficient, for subjects to unlearn their Pavlovian bias, and that other task features, such as gamification and spaced stimulus presentation may also be necessary. In summary, we show that Pavlovian bias, whilst robust, is susceptible to change with experience, but only under specific environmental conditions.

Type: Article
Title: Overcoming Pavlovian bias in semantic space
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-82889-8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82889-8
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
UCL classification: UCL
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 > 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/10123178
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