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Learning from errors : Genetic evidence for a central role of dopamine in human performance monitoring


Klein,  Tilmann A.
Department Cognitive Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Klein, T. A. (2008). Learning from errors: Genetic evidence for a central role of dopamine in human performance monitoring. PhD Thesis, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-C303-2
Human performance monitoring is highly dependent on dopaminergic signaling. Learning to maximize future outcomes requires close interaction between performance monitoring and learning related structures in the human brain. Genetically determined alterations in dopaminergic transmission (single nucleotide polymorphism affecting dopamine D2 receptor density) lead to corresponding alterations in negative feedback processing and learning from negative feedback. Depending on external factors, the contribution of different learning systems to behavioral output is biased either towards working memory in the prefrontal cortex or habit learning in the basal ganglia. One important factor in determining this relative contribution is fulfillment of temporal requirements needed for dopaminergic signaling. Thus learning performance and learning success are influenced by external factors impinging on dopaminergic transmission. Feedbackguided learning requires both learning components which in close cooperation with performance monitoring enable a subject to successfully perform within a probabilistic learning task. In conclusion, dopamine is an effective neuromodulator setting the stage for different cognitive processes dependent on brain area and type of information being processed. Dopaminergic signaling is important for error signaling and subsequently for error driven learning in the human brain.