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Dopamine and performance in a reinforcement learning task: evidence from Parkinson's disease

Shiner, T; Seymour, B; Wunderlich, K; Hill, C; Bhatia, KP; Dayan, P; Dolan, RJ; (2012) Dopamine and performance in a reinforcement learning task: evidence from Parkinson's disease. Brain , 135 (6) 1871 -1883. 10.1093/brain/aws083. Green open access

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Abstract

The role dopamine plays in decision-making has important theoretical, empirical and clinical implications. Here, we examined its precise contribution by exploiting the lesion deficit model afforded by Parkinson's disease. We studied patients in a two-stage reinforcement learning task, while they were ON and OFF dopamine replacement medication. Contrary to expectation, we found that dopaminergic drug state (ON or OFF) did not impact learning. Instead, the critical factor was drug state during the performance phase, with patients ON medication choosing correctly significantly more frequently than those OFF medication. This effect was independent of drug state during initial learning and appears to reflect a facilitation of generalization for learnt information. This inference is bolstered by our observation that neural activity in nucleus accumbens and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, measured during simultaneously acquired functional magnetic resonance imaging, represented learnt stimulus values during performance. This effect was expressed solely during the ON state with activity in these regions correlating with better performance. Our data indicate that dopamine modulation of nucleus accumbens and ventromedial prefrontal cortex exerts a specific effect on choice behaviour distinct from pure learning. The findings are in keeping with the substantial other evidence that certain aspects of learning are unaffected by dopamine lesions or depletion, and that dopamine plays a key role in performance that may be distinct from its role in learning.

Type: Article
Title: Dopamine and performance in a reinforcement learning task: evidence from Parkinson's disease
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/brain/aws083
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aws083
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author (2012). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. PMCID: PMC3359751
Keywords: Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Association learning, Carbidopa, Choice behavior, Dopamine agents, Dose-response relationship, Drug, Drug combinations, Female, Generalization (psychology), Humans, Image processing, Computer-assisted, Levodopa, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle aged, Nucleus accumbens, Oxygen, Parkinson disease, Photic stimulation, Prefrontal cortex, Psychomotor performance, Reinforcement (psychology)
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 > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Department of Neuromuscular Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1356635
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