The role of prospective contingency in the control of behavior and dopamine signals during associative learning

Read the full article See related articles

Listed in

This article is not in any list yet, why not save it to one of your lists.
Log in to save this article


Associative learning depends on contingency, the degree to which a stimulus predicts an outcome. Despite its importance, the neural mechanisms linking contingency to behavior remain elusive. Here we examined the dopamine activity in the ventral striatum – a signal implicated in associative learning – in a Pavlovian contingency degradation task in mice. We show that both anticipatory licking and dopamine responses to a conditioned stimulus decreased when additional rewards were delivered uncued, but remained unchanged if additional rewards were cued. These results conflict with contingency-based accounts using a traditional definition of contingency or a novel causal learning model (ANCCR), but can be explained by temporal difference (TD) learning models equipped with an appropriate inter-trial-interval (ITI) state representation. Recurrent neural networks trained within a TD framework develop state representations like our best ‘handcrafted’ model. Our findings suggest that the TD error can be a measure that describes both contingency and dopaminergic activity.

Article activity feed