The ANaP Lab would like to invite you to a virtual talk by Joana Rita da Silva Carvalheiro (University of Minho, Portugal) on Monday, 17 May 2021 at 16:30. In her talk, she will speak about “Unveiling the impact of acute stress on reinforcement learning: A computational and neuroimaging approach”. You can find the abstract and Zoom link below. Please feel free to forward this invitation to anyone that you think may be interested.
We are looking forward to seeing you at our colloquium.
Reinforcement learning is an adaptive process through which individuals learn to make choices that maximise rewards and minimise punishments. This type of learning is driven by prediction errors, which are signalled by phasic dopamine responses when a choice results in a rewarding or punishing outcome different from the expected. Although acute stress is pervasive in modern everyday life and is thought to affect reinforcement learning and dopaminergic functioning, notably, the computational and neural mechanisms by which acute stress affects reinforcement learning remain poorly understood. My PhD work set out to investigate how acute stress impacts the computational and neural mechanisms of reinforcement learning, and how individual differences modulate such impact.
This work endeavoured to answer three outstanding research questions: 1) How does acute stress impact reinforcement learning at the behavioural and computational levels? 2) Does acute stress affect neural signalling of prediction errors during reinforcement learning? 3) Do individual differences in psychopathic traits modulate the impact of acute stress on reinforcement learning and on neural signalling of prediction errors?
Our findings suggest that 1) acute stress impairs behavioural performance towards obtaining rewards and decreases the learning rate for positive prediction errors (doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105657); 2) acute stress blunts signalling of prediction errors, preferentially positive prediction errors, in the dorsal striatum (doi:10.1101/2021.02.11.430640); 3) individual differences in psychopathic traits modulate the impact of acute stress on behavioural performance towards rewards and underlying signalling of prediction errors in the dorsal striatum. Overall, our findings extend behavioural evidence that acute stress impairs reward learning and, importantly, suggest a neurocomputational mechanism behind such impairment — consistent with a neurobiological framework of stress-induced dopamine disruptions. Ultimately, this research contributes to a more complete and coherent understanding of the impact of acute stress on reinforcement learning.
Meeting ID: 979 8948 0319