Purkinje cell activity during classical conditioning with different conditional stimulus explains central tenet of Rescorla-Wagner model.

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Abstract

A central tenet of Rescorla and Wagner's model of associative learning is that the reinforcement value of a paired trial diminishes as the associative strength between the presented stimuli increases. Despite its fundamental importance to behavioral sciences, the neural mechanisms underlying the model have not been fully explored. Here, we present findings that, taken together, can explain why a stronger association leads to a reduced reinforcement value, within the context of eyeblink conditioning. Specifically, we show that learned pause responses in Purkinje cells, which trigger adaptively timed conditioned eyeblinks, suppress the unconditional stimulus (US) signal in a graded manner. Furthermore, by examining how Purkinje cells respond to two distinct conditional stimuli and to a compound stimulus, we provide evidence that could potentially help explain the somewhat counterintuitive overexpectation phenomenon, which was derived from the Rescorla-Wagner model.

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  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • Neurosciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14060-14065
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume112
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

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