Evidence for model-based encoding of Pavlovian contingencies in the human brain

Wolfgang M. Pauli, Giovanni Gentile, Sven Collette, Julian M. Tyszka, John P. O'Doherty
2019 Nature Communications  
Prominent accounts of Pavlovian conditioning successfully approximate the frequency and intensity of conditioned responses under the assumption that learning is exclusively model-free; that animals do not develop a cognitive map of events. However, these model-free approximations fall short of comprehensively capturing learning and behavior in Pavlovian conditioning. We therefore performed multivoxel pattern analysis of high-resolution functional MRI data in human participants to test for the
more » ... coding of stimulus-stimulus associations that could support model-based computations during Pavlovian conditioning. We found that dissociable sub-regions of the striatum encode predictions of stimulus-stimulus associations and predictive value, in a manner that is directly related to learning performance. Activity patterns in the orbitofrontal cortex were also found to be related to stimulus-stimulus as well as value encoding. These results suggest that the brain encodes model-based representations during Pavlovian conditioning, and that these representations are utilized in the service of behavior.
doi:10.1038/s41467-019-08922-7 pmid:30846685 pmcid:PMC6405831 fatcat:qbpei2uyvvawblgl5vi3pjvua4