Computational Psychiatry & Decision-making

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  • doi pdf Ventral Striatal Dopamine Reflects Behavioral and Neural Signatures of Model-Based Control during Sequential Decision Making
  • Deserno L, Huys QJM, Boehme R, Buchert R, Heinze HJ, Grace AA, Dolan RJ, Heinz A and Schlagenhauf F
  • PNAS (2015), 112(5):1595-600
  • Dual system theories suggest that behavioral control is parsed between a deliberative `model-based' and a more reflexive `model-free' system. A balance of control exerted by these systems is thought to be related to dopamine neurotransmission. However, in the absence of direct measures of human dopamine, it remains unknown whether this reflects a quantitative relation with dopamine either in the striatum or other brain areas. Using a sequential decision task performed during fMRI, combined with striatal measures of dopamine using [18F]DOPA PET, we show that higher presynaptic ventral striatal dopamine levels were associated with a behavioral bias towards more model-based control. Higher presynaptic dopamine in ventral striatum was associated with greater coding of model-based information in lateral prefrontal cortex and diminished coding of model-free prediction errors in ventral striatum. Thus, inter- individual variability in ventral striatal presynaptic dopamine reflects a balance in the behavioral expression and the neural signatures of model-free and model-based control. Our data provide a novel perspective on how alterations in presynaptic dopamine levels might be accompanied by a disruption of behavioral control as observed in aging or neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and addiction.