Neural Substrates of Reward and Avoidance Learning in the Human Brain
Speaker(s): Burak Erdeniz
It is well known that both animals and humans are capable of distinguishing conditional stimuli based on their positive and negative outcomes, but is not known how the brain encodes, represents, and uses signals that indicate potential rewards and punishments. This has been a challenging question for neuroscientists over several decades. Recently, imaging studies in humans and neural-recording studies in primates and rodents revealed the neural correlates of reward and punishment related processes in various parts of the brain mostly reporting activity in the basal ganglia and frontal cortex emphasizing the involvement of dopamine in learning of rewards and punishments. In this talk, I am going to present you the results of our recent fMRI study showing which parts of the brain are involved in assigning value to neutral objects and discuss the possible underlying computational mechanisms and highlight how the local brain activity shifts from anterior to posterior regions in the basal ganglia when one is in the early stages of learning compared to later stages of learning.
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