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Many hats: intra-trial and reward-level dependent bold activity in the striatum and premotor cortex




Peterson, Erik J., author
Seger, Carol A., advisor
Troup, Lucy J., committee member
Anderson, Charles W., committee member

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Lesion, drug, single-cell recording, as well as human fMRI studies, suggest dopaminergic projections from VTA/SNc (ventral tagmental area/substantia nigra pars compacta) and cortically driven striatal activity plays a key role in associating sensory events with rewarding actions both by facilitating reward processing and prediction (i.e. reinforcement learning) and biasing and later updating action selection. We, for the first time, isolated BOLD signal changes for stimulus, pre-response, response and feedback delivery at three reward levels. This design allowed us to estimate the degree of involvement of individual striatal regions across these trial components, the reward sensitivity of each component and allowed for a novel comparison of potential (and potentially competing) reinforcement learning computations. Striatal and lateral premotor cortex regions of interest (ROIs) significant activations were universally observed (excepting the ventral striatum) during stimulus presentation, pre-response, response and feedback delivery, confirming these areas importance in all aspects of visuomotor learning. The head of the caudate showed a precipitous drop in activity pre-response, while in the body of the caudate showed no significant changes in activity. The putamen peaked in activity during response. Activation in the lateral premotor cortex was strongest during stimulus presentation, but the drop off was followed by a trend of increasing activity as feedback approached. Both the head and body of the caudate as well as the putamen displayed reward-level sensitivity only during stimulus, while the ventral striatum showed reward sensitivity at both stimulus and feedback. The lack of reward sensitivity surrounding response is inconsistent with theories that the head and ventral striatum encode the value of actions. Which of the three examined reinforcement learning models correlated best with BOLD signal changes varied as a function of trial component and ROI suggesting these regions computations vary depending on task demand.


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basal ganglia


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