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Disrupted state transition learning as a computational marker of compulsivity

Sharp, PB; Dolan, RJ; Eldar, E; (2021) Disrupted state transition learning as a computational marker of compulsivity. Psychological Medicine 10.1017/S0033291721003846. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Disorders involving compulsivity, fear, and anxiety are linked to beliefs that the world is less predictable. We lack a mechanistic explanation for how such beliefs arise. Here, we test a hypothesis that in people with compulsivity, fear, and anxiety, learning a probabilistic mapping between actions and environmental states is compromised. // Methods: In Study 1 (n = 174), we designed a novel online task that isolated state transition learning from other facets of learning and planning. To determine whether this impairment is due to learning that is too fast or too slow, we estimated state transition learning rates by fitting computational models to two independent datasets, which tested learning in environments in which state transitions were either stable (Study 2: n = 1413) or changing (Study 3: n = 192). // Results: Study 1 established that individuals with higher levels of compulsivity are more likely to demonstrate an impairment in state transition learning. Preliminary evidence here linked this impairment to a common factor comprising compulsivity and fear. Studies 2 and 3 showed that compulsivity is associated with learning that is too fast when it should be slow (i.e. when state transition are stable) and too slow when it should be fast (i.e. when state transitions change). // Conclusions: Together, these findings indicate that compulsivity is associated with a dysregulation of state transition learning, wherein the rate of learning is not well adapted to the task environment. Thus, dysregulated state transition learning might provide a key target for therapeutic intervention in compulsivity.

Type: Article
Title: Disrupted state transition learning as a computational marker of compulsivity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291721003846
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721003846
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
Keywords: Anxiety; compulsivity; computational modelling; model-based learning; transdiagnostic
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/10136414
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