Scientists make step towards better understanding of the brain's teaching signals

23 November 2011

A study published in Neuron last week, conducted at UCL's Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, shows that the conventional view of how our brains learn has to be revisited. Previously, it was thought that the dopaminergic inputs that the ventral striatum receives from mid-brain structures signal a reward prediction error which facilitates learning from rewards. However, the study conducted by Miriam Klein-Flugge, Tim Behrens and colleagues, found that in situations where learning does not depend on rewards, the ventral striatal signal flexibly adapts and instead reflects a behaviourally relevant teaching signal, while the mid-brain still encodes the classic reward prediction error. Read: Wellcome Trust Blog