Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS


REWARDVIEW Streszczenie raportu

Project ID: 323413
Źródło dofinansowania: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Kraj: Netherlands

Mid-Term Report Summary - REWARDVIEW (What you get is what you see: How Reward Determines Perception)

The expectation of receiving a reward is considered to be the driving force behind all adaptive behaviour and learning. It is known that the dopaminergic reward circuitry at the centre of our primitive brain plays a crucial role in goal-directed behaviour. We have shown that that reward (and the expectation of receiving a reward) not only plays a crucial role in motivational control but also affects the way we perceive the world around us. Indeed, if attending to an object is followed by a large reward, that object becomes visually more attractive, more salient than when attending to that very same object is followed by a small reward. We claim that the reward-related activity in the dopamine system changes the sensory representation in the visual system such that the features of the objects that were rewarded appear to be more salient than non rewarded features.
The mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system plays a crucial role in mediating a broad array of rewarding activities, be it candy, sex, drugs or music. When we perform an action that is followed by a rewarding state of affairs, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released and produces pleasure. It serves as a signal that the action promotes survival or reproduction, directly or indirectly. This system is called the reward pathway.
The overall goal of this research program is to determine the extent to which the delivery of a reward automatically changes the ‘settings’ in our brain, thereby altering the way we perceive the world around us. We relate the response of the phylogenetically-old, dopaminergic reward brain circuitry to individual differences in reward sensitivity providing a possible link to the development of addiction and risk seeking behaviour.
In the current project we have established that the effect of reward on perception and attention is large and robust and that learning reward contingencies only occurs when observers attend the relevant features. Crucially, once established these effects of reward on perception and attention become mandatory, i.e., once an object is associated with a high reward we cannot help attending it. It grabs our attention and our eyes even if we try to ignore these objects, similar to what is seen in those who are suffering for substance abuse. Also here, objects related to the drug addiction are attended even if one tries to ignore them. Furthermore, it is known that people differ in the extent to which they are sensitive to reward. The biological basis of sensitivity to reward (STR) is suggested by correlations between individual differences in dopamine availability in the reward pathway and relevant personality characteristics. As part of this project, we have shown that psychopathic patients who show a lack of affective reactivity to rewarding or threatening events have trouble incorporating contextual information related to the task at hand.
We have shown that the size of the pupil responses reflects dynamics of behavioural control related to value-based learning. The first results indicate that the size of the pupil signals reward-based learning on separate timescales. We speculate that this measure may be a proxy of the dopaminergic response in the brain underlying this pupillary value response.

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