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Human Substantia Nigra Neurons Encode Unexpected Financial Rewards

K. A Zaghloul, J. A Blanco, C. T Weidemann, K McGill, J. L Jaggi, G. H Baltuch, M. J Kahana, Christoph Weidemann

Science, Volume: 323, Issue: 5920, Pages: 1496 - 1499

Swansea University Author: Christoph Weidemann

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Abstract

The brain's sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in an organism's ability to adapt and learn new behaviors. Emerging research suggests that midbrain dopaminergic neurons encode these unexpected outcomes. We used microelectrode recordings during deep brain stimulation...

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Published in: Science
ISSN: 0036-8075 1095-9203
Published: 2009
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa6931
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Abstract: The brain's sensitivity to unexpected outcomes plays a fundamental role in an organism's ability to adapt and learn new behaviors. Emerging research suggests that midbrain dopaminergic neurons encode these unexpected outcomes. We used microelectrode recordings during deep brain stimulation surgery to study neuronal activity in the human substantia nigra (SN) while patients with Parkinson's disease engaged in a probabilistic learning task motivated by virtual financial rewards. Based on a model of the participants' expected reward, we divided trial outcomes into expected and unexpected gains and losses. SN neurons exhibited significantly higher firing rates after unexpected gains than unexpected losses. No such differences were observed after expected gains and losses. This result provides critical support for the hypothesized role of the SN in human reinforcement learning.
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Issue: 5920
Start Page: 1496
End Page: 1499