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Cognitive flexibility in adolescence: Neural and behavioral mechanisms of reward prediction error processing in adaptive decision making during development


Hauser, Tobias U; Iannaccone, Reto; Walitza, Susanne; Brandeis, Daniel; Brem, Silvia (2015). Cognitive flexibility in adolescence: Neural and behavioral mechanisms of reward prediction error processing in adaptive decision making during development. NeuroImage, 104:347-354.

Abstract

Adolescence is associated with quickly changing environmental demands which require excellent adaptive skills and high cognitive flexibility. Feedback-guided adaptive learning and cognitive flexibility are driven by reward prediction error (RPE) signals, which indicate the accuracy of expectations and can be estimated using computational models. Despite the importance of cognitive flexibility during adolescence, only little is known about how RPE processing in cognitive flexibility deviates between adolescence and adulthood. In this study, we investigated the developmental aspects of cognitive flexibility by means of computational models and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We compared the neural and behavioral correlates of cognitive flexibility in healthy adolescents (12-16years) to adults performing a probabilistic reversal learning task. Using a modified risk-sensitive reinforcement learning model, we found that adolescents learned faster from negative RPEs than adults. The fMRI analysis revealed that within the RPE network, the adolescents had a significantly altered RPE-response in the anterior insula. This effect seemed to be mainly driven by increased responses to negative prediction errors. In summary, our findings indicate that decision making in adolescence goes beyond merely increased reward-seeking behavior and provides a developmental perspective to the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying cognitive flexibility in the context of reinforcement learning.

Abstract

Adolescence is associated with quickly changing environmental demands which require excellent adaptive skills and high cognitive flexibility. Feedback-guided adaptive learning and cognitive flexibility are driven by reward prediction error (RPE) signals, which indicate the accuracy of expectations and can be estimated using computational models. Despite the importance of cognitive flexibility during adolescence, only little is known about how RPE processing in cognitive flexibility deviates between adolescence and adulthood. In this study, we investigated the developmental aspects of cognitive flexibility by means of computational models and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We compared the neural and behavioral correlates of cognitive flexibility in healthy adolescents (12-16years) to adults performing a probabilistic reversal learning task. Using a modified risk-sensitive reinforcement learning model, we found that adolescents learned faster from negative RPEs than adults. The fMRI analysis revealed that within the RPE network, the adolescents had a significantly altered RPE-response in the anterior insula. This effect seemed to be mainly driven by increased responses to negative prediction errors. In summary, our findings indicate that decision making in adolescence goes beyond merely increased reward-seeking behavior and provides a developmental perspective to the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying cognitive flexibility in the context of reinforcement learning.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Date:2015
Deposited On:30 Sep 2014 13:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:23
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1053-8119
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.09.018
PubMed ID:25234119

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