Computational Psychiatry & Decision-making

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  • doi pdf No substantial change in the balance between model-free and model-based control via training on the two-step task
  • Grosskurth, ED, Bach DR, Economides M, Huys QJM and Holper L
  • PLos Comp Biol (2019) 15(11): e1007443
  • Human decisions can be habitual or goal-directed, also known as model-free (MF) or model-based (MB) control. Previous work suggests that the balance between the two decision systems is impaired in psychiatric disorders such as compulsion and addiction, via overreliance on MF control. However, little is known whether the balance can be altered through task training. Here, 20 healthy participants performed a well-established two-step task that differentiates MB from MF control, across five training sessions. We used computational modelling and functional near-infrared spectroscopy to assess changes in decision-making and brain activity over time. Mixed-effects modeling revealed overall no substantial changes in MF and MB behavior across training. Although our findings show task-induced changes in learning rates, these parameters have no direct relation to either MF or MB control or the balance between the two systems, and thus do not support the assertion that training affects MF or MB strategies. The missing training effect in behavior correlated well with activity in the inferior lateral prefrontal cortex, which has been suggested to arbitrate between MF and MB control. Our findings indicate that simple repeated training on the two-step paradigm does not lead to a shift in the balance between MF and MB control. We discuss these results with respect to implications for restoring the balance between MF and MB control in psychiatric conditions.