Dec 24, 2015

Reactivation of reward-related patterns from single past episodes supports memory-based decision making

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
G Elliott Wimmer, Christian Buechel


Rewarding experiences exert a strong influence on later decision making. While decades of neuroscience research have shown how reinforcement gradually shapes preferences, decisions are often influenced by single past experiences. Surprisingly, relatively little is known about the influence of single learning episodes. While recent work has proposed a role for episodes in decision making, it is largely unknown whether and how episodic experiences contribute to value-based decision making and how the values of single episodes are represented in the brain. In multiple behavioral experiments and an fMRI experiment, we tested whether and how rewarding episodes could support later decision making. Participants experienced episodes of high reward or low reward in conjunction with incidental, trial-unique neutral pictures. In a surprise test phase, we found that participants could indeed remember the associated level of reward, as evidenced by accurate source memory for value and preferences to re-engage with rewarded objects. Further, in a separate experiment, we found that high reward objects shown as primes before a gambling task increased financial risk-taking. Neurally, re-exposure to objects in the test phase led to significant r...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Decision Making
Prefrontal Cortex
Neuroscience and Neuropsychiatric Research
Clinical Trials

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