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Attenuation of dopamine-modulated prefrontal value signals underlies probabilistic reward learning deficits in old age

  1. Lieke de Boer  Is a corresponding author
  2. Jan Axelsson
  3. Katrine Riklund
  4. Lars Nyberg
  5. Peter Dayan
  6. Lars Bäckman
  7. Marc Guitart-Masip  Is a corresponding author
  1. Karolinska Institute, Sweden
  2. Umeå University, Sweden
  3. University College London, United Kingdom
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e26424 doi: 10.7554/eLife.26424

Abstract

Probabilistic reward learning is characterised by individual differences that become acute in aging. This may be due to age-related dopamine (DA) decline affecting neural processing in striatum, prefrontal cortex, or both. We examined this by administering a probabilistic reward learning task to younger and older adults, and combining computational modelling of behaviour, fMRI and PET measurements of DA D1 availability. We found that anticipatory value signals in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) were attenuated in older adults. The strength of this signal predicted performance beyond age and was modulated by D1 availability in nucleus accumbens. These results uncover that a value-anticipation mechanism in vmPFC declines in aging, and that this mechanisms is associated with DA D1 receptor availability.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Lieke de Boer

    Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
    For correspondence
    liekelotte@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3381-2040
  2. Jan Axelsson

    Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Katrine Riklund

    Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Lars Nyberg

    Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Peter Dayan

    Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-3476-1839
  6. Lars Bäckman

    Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Marc Guitart-Masip

    Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
    For correspondence
    marc.guitart-masip@ki.se
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-2294-6492

Funding

Vetenskapsrådet (VR521-2013-2589)

  • Marc Guitart-Masip

Gatsby Charitable Foundation

  • Peter Dayan

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (Humboldt Research Award)

  • Lars Bäckman

Stichting af Jochnick Foundation

  • Lars Bäckman

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Ethical approval was obtained from the Umeå Ethical Review Board, identifier DNR 2014-251-31M. All participants provided written informed consent prior to commencing the study.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Wolfram Schultz, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: February 28, 2017
  2. Accepted: August 11, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 5, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 11, 2017 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2017, de Boer et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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