Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Paper Session #346
CE Offered: PSY

Reward, Reinforcement, and the Neural Bases of Decision-Making

Monday, May 26, 2014
10:00 AM–10:50 AM
W375e (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Bernard Balleine, Ph.D.
Chair: Federico Sanabria (Arizona State University)
BERNARD BALLEINE (The University of Sidney)
Dr. Bernard Balleine received his B.A. with first-class honors and with the University Medal from the University of Sydney in 1987 and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1992. He was made a fellow of Jesus College Cambridge in 1992 and conducted post-doctoral research in neuroscience in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Cambridge University until 1995. He was then appointed assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1996, given tenure in 2000, and made a full professor at UCLA in 2004. He was elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association in 2004 and appointed director of research in the Brain Research Institute at UCLA in 2005. In 2009, Dr. Balleine received an inaugural Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship and was appointed to a professorial position at the University of Sydney establishing the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory in the Brain & Mind Research Institute there in early 2010. Dr. Balleine's research is focused on the psychological and neural bases of decision-making and has been instrumental in establishing the processes determining the acquisition of and choice between goal-directed actions, the development of habits and the reward and reinforcement processes that suport these fundamental classes of behavior.

Recent studies point to a number of learning and modulatory processes that contribute to food-seeking. Distinct learning processes mediate the acquisition of goal-directed and habitual actions and are subserved by parallel circuits involving the dorsomedial and dorsolateral striatum, respectively. In addition, food can function as an incentive, to reward actions, and as a reinforcer, to strengthen habits. Evidence suggests that two forms of incentive process affect food seeking: (i) the experienced value of a particular food based on consummatory experience, and (ii) the predicted value of a particular action based on cues that predict food delivery. Although incentive theories generally assume that these processes are mediated by a common associative mechanism, a number of recent findings suggest that they are dissociable behaviorally, anatomically, and neurochemically. The latter predictive learning process also may play a role in habitual food-seeking, particularly in the function of the reinforcement signal, long ascribed to the dopaminergic input to dorsolateral striatum which we have found is heavily regulated by the central amygdala. As the basolateral amygdala is heavily involved in reward processing, it appears the amygdala plays the generally role of parsing food events into the reward and reinforcement signals that support goal-directed and habitual action control, respectively.

Target Audience:

Behavior analysts interested in the neurobiological underpinnings of learning and motivation, and their implications for theories of reinforcement.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Articulate the difference between habitual and goal-directed action in behavioral terms; (2) Identify the neural mechanisms underlying reward and reinforcement processing; (3) Explain why theories of reward and reinforcement based on single associative mechanisms are insufficient.
Keyword(s): basolateral amygdala, dorsolateral striatum, goal-directed behavior, habit formation



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