Role of striatal dopamine in the fast adaption of outcome-based decisions

Roshan Cools

in Decision Making, Affect, and Learning

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600434
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725623 | DOI:

Series: Attention and Performance

Role of striatal dopamine in the fast adaption of outcome-based decisions

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The prefrontal cortex interacts with a set of deep brain subcortical structures, including in particular the striatum, to bias flexible decision making. The output of these fronto-striatal circuits is sensitive to modulation by brain dopamine. However, the relationship between dopamine and flexible decision making is complex and the effects of dopaminergic drugs are both baseline-dependent and outcome-specific. Specifically, opposite effects are observed on reward- and punishment-based reversal learning and in subjects with high and low baseline dopamine function. This chapter highlights two factors that may contribute to the large variability of dopaminergic drug effects on human cognition in general, and on the fast adaptation of outcome-predictions in particular. First, different effects are seen depending on the particular task demands under study and the associated neural mechanism, as illustrated by the contrasting effect of dopamine-enhancing drugs on the updating of reward- and punishment-predictions in Parkinson's Disease as well as in healthy volunteers. Second, drug effects depend on baseline levels of dopamine, as illustrated by a positron emission tomography study where drugs had opposite effects in low- and high-dopamine subjects.

Keywords: prefrontal cortex; human brain; flexible decision making; dopamine; striatum; reversal learning; dopaminergic drugs; cognition

Chapter.  8436 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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