Separate amygdala subregions signal surprise and predictiveness during associative fear learning in humans

Boll, Sabrina and Gamer, Matthias and Gluth, Sebastian and Finsterbusch, Jürgen and Büchel, Christian. (2013) Separate amygdala subregions signal surprise and predictiveness during associative fear learning in humans. European Journal of Neuroscience, 37 (5). pp. 758-767.

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It has recently been suggested that learning signals in the amygdala might be best characterized by attentional theories of associative learning [such as Pearce-Hall (PH)] and more recent hybrid variants that combine Rescorla-Wagner and PH learning models. In these models, unsigned prediction errors (PEs) determine the associability of a cue, which is used in turn to control learning of outcome expectations dynamically and reflects a function of the reliability of prior outcome predictions. Here, we employed an aversive Pavlovian reversal-learning task to investigate computational signals derived from such a hybrid model. Unlike previous accounts, our paradigm allowed for the separate assessment of associability at the time of cue presentation and PEs at the time of outcome. We combined this approach with high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging to understand how different subregions of the human amygdala contribute to associative learning. Signal changes in the corticomedial amygdala and in the midbrain represented unsigned PEs at the time of outcome showing increased responses irrespective of whether a shock was unexpectedly administered or omitted. In contrast, activity in basolateral amygdala regions correlated negatively with associability at the time of cue presentation. Thus, whereas the corticomedial amygdala and the midbrain reflected immediate surprise, the basolateral amygdala represented predictiveness and displayed increased responses when outcome predictions became more reliable. These results extend previous findings on PH-like mechanisms in the amygdala and provide unique insights into human amygdala circuits during associative learning.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Society & Choice > Economic Psychology (Rieskamp)
UniBasel Contributors:Gluth, Sebastian
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:24 Oct 2017 14:58
Deposited On:15 Jun 2017 09:39

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