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Structural integrity of the substantia nigra and subthalamic nucleus predicts flexibility of instrumental learning in older-age individuals

Chowdhury, R; Guitart-Masip, M; Lambert, C; Dolan, RJ; Düzel, E; (2013) Structural integrity of the substantia nigra and subthalamic nucleus predicts flexibility of instrumental learning in older-age individuals. Neurobiology of Aging , 34 (10) pp. 2261-2270. 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03.030. Green open access

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Abstract

Flexible instrumental learning is required to harness the appropriate behaviors to obtain rewards and to avoid punishments. The precise contribution of dopaminergic midbrain regions (substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area [SN/VTA]) to this form of behavioral adaptation remains unclear. Normal aging is associated with a variable loss of dopamine neurons in the SN/VTA. We therefore tested the relationship between flexible instrumental learning and midbrain structural integrity. We compared task performance on a probabilistic monetary go/no-go task, involving trial and error learning of: "go to win," "no-go to win," "go to avoid losing," and "no-go to avoid losing" in 42 healthy older adults to previous behavioral data from 47 younger adults. Quantitative structural magnetization transfer images were obtained to index regional structural integrity. On average, both some younger and some older participants demonstrated a behavioral asymmetry whereby they were better at learning to act for reward ("go to win" > "no-go to win"), but better at learning not to act to avoid punishment ("no-go to avoid losing" > "go to avoid losing"). Older, but not younger, participants with greater structural integrity of the SN/VTA and the adjacent subthalamic nucleus could overcome this asymmetry. We show that interindividual variability among healthy older adults of the structural integrity within the SN/VTA and subthalamic nucleus relates to effective acquisition of competing instrumental responses.

Type: Article
Title: Structural integrity of the substantia nigra and subthalamic nucleus predicts flexibility of instrumental learning in older-age individuals
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03.030
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.03...
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. ScienceDirect® is a registered trademark of Elsevier B.V. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium. However, you must attribute the work to the author (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
Keywords: Aging, Instrumental learning, Magnetization transfer, Novelty seeking, Substantia nigra
UCL classification: 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/1392521
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