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Publication Detail
Learning in anticipation of reward and punishment: perspectives across the human lifespan
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Betts MJ, Richter A, de Boer L, Tegelbeckers J, Perosa V, Baumann V, Chowdhury R, Dolan RJ, Seidenbecher C, Schott BH, Düzel E, Guitart-Masip M, Krauel K
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    49, 57
  • Journal:
    Neurobiology of Aging
  • Volume:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
© 2020 Elsevier Inc. Learning to act to receive reward and to withhold to avoid punishment has been found to be easier than learning the opposite contingencies in young adults. To what extent this type of behavioral adaptation might develop during childhood and adolescence and differ during aging remains unclear. We therefore tested 247 healthy individuals across the human life span (7–80 years) with an orthogonalized valenced go/no-go learning task. Computational modeling revealed that peak performance in young adults was attributable to greater sensitivity to both reward and punishment. However, in children and adolescents, we observed an increased bias toward action but not reward sensitivity. By contrast, reduced learning in midlife and older adults was accompanied by decreased reward sensitivity and especially punishment sensitivity along with an age-related increase in the Pavlovian bias. These findings reveal distinct motivation-dependent learning capabilities across the human life span, which cannot be probed using conventional go/reward no-go/punishment style paradigms that have important implications in lifelong education.
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