DOI: 10.1101/19002089Jul 14, 2019Paper

Deficient goal-directed control in a population characterized by extreme goal pursuit

MedRxiv : the Preprint Server for Health Sciences
Karin FoerdeJ. Steinglass

Abstract

Computational neuroscience has contributed to understanding compulsive behavior by distinguishing habitual from goal-directed choice through model-free and model-based learning. Yet, questions remain about applying this approach to psychiatric conditions that are characterized by complex behaviors that occur outside the laboratory. Here, we compared individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN), whose self-starvation appears both excessively goal-directed and habitual, with healthy controls (HC) to assess: 1) whether their behavior is characterized by enhanced or diminished model-based behavior, 2) the domain specificity of any abnormalities by comparing learning in a food-specific context as well as in a monetary context, and 3) whether impairments are secondary to starvation by comparing learning before and after initial treatment. Across all conditions, individuals with AN showed an impairment in model-based, but not model-free, learning, suggesting a general and persistent contribution of habitual over goal-directed control, across domains and timepoints.

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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a psychiatric condition characterized by severe weight loss and secondary problems associated with malnutrition. Here is the latest research on AN.

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