Stress diminishes outcome but enhances response representations during instrumental learning
Stress may shift behavioural control from a goal-directed system that encodes action-outcome relationships, to a habitual system that learns stimulus-response associations. Although this shift to habits is highly relevant for stress-related psychopathologies, limitations of existing behavioural paradigms hinders research from answering the fundamental question of whether the stress-induced bias to habits is due to reduced outcome processing, or enhanced response processing at the time of stimulus presentation - or both. Here, we used EEG-based multivariate pattern analysis to decode neural outcome representations crucial for goal-directed control, as well as response representations during instrumental learning. We show that stress reduced outcome representations but enhanced response representations. Both were directly associated with a behavioural index of habitual responding. Furthermore, changes in outcome and response representations were uncorrelated, suggesting that these may reflect distinct processes. Our findings indicate that habitual behaviour under stress may be the result of both enhanced stimulus-response processing and diminished outcome processing.
Data reported in this manuscript are available from the website: https://github.com/08122019/From-goal-directed-action-to-habit.
Article and author information
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SCHW1357/23-1)
- Lars Schwabe
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: All participants provided informed consent before participation in the experiment. The experiment was performed in line with the Declaration of Helsinki and approved by the ethics committee of the Faculty of Psychology and Human Movement Sciences at the Universität Hamburg (2018_197_Schwabe).
- Mimi Liljeholm, University of California, Irvine, United States
- Received: February 13, 2021
- Preprint posted: February 14, 2021 (view preprint)
- Accepted: July 15, 2022
- Accepted Manuscript published: July 18, 2022 (version 1)
- Version of Record published: August 5, 2022 (version 2)
© 2022, Meier 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.
- Page views
Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Crossref, PubMed Central, Scopus.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Cite this article (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
- Genetics and Genomics
For at least two centuries, scientists have been enthralled by the “zombie” behaviors induced by mind-controlling parasites. Despite this interest, the mechanistic bases of these uncanny processes have remained mostly a mystery. Here, we leverage the Entomophthora muscae-Drosophila melanogaster “zombie fly” system to reveal the mechanistic underpinnings of summit disease, a manipulated behavior evoked by many fungal parasites. Using a high-throughput approach to measure summiting, we discovered that summiting behavior is characterized by a burst of locomotion and requires the host circadian and neurosecretory systems, specifically DN1p circadian neurons, pars intercerebralis to corpora allata projecting (PI-CA) neurons and corpora allata (CA), the latter being solely responsible for juvenile hormone (JH) synthesis and release. Using a machine learning classifier to identify summiting animals in real time, we observed that PI-CA neurons and CA appeared intact in summiting animals, despite invasion of adjacent regions of the “zombie fly” brain by E. muscae cells and extensive host tissue damage in the body cavity. The blood-brain barrier of flies late in their infection was significantly permeabilized, suggesting that factors in the hemolymph may have greater access to the central nervous system during summiting. Metabolomic analysis of hemolymph from summiting flies revealed differential abundance of several compounds compared to non-summiting flies. Transfusing the hemolymph of summiting flies into non-summiting recipients induced a burst of locomotion, demonstrating that factor(s) in the hemolymph likely cause summiting behavior. Altogether, our work reveals a neuro-mechanistic model for summiting wherein fungal cells perturb the fly’s hemolymph, activating a neurohormonal pathway linking clock neurons to juvenile hormone production in the CA, ultimately inducing locomotor activity in their host.
Deep brain stimulation targeting the posterior hypothalamus (pHyp-DBS) is being investigated as a treatment for refractory aggressive behavior, but its mechanisms of action remain elusive. We conducted an integrated imaging analysis of a large multi-centre dataset, incorporating volume of activated tissue modeling, probabilistic mapping, normative connectomics, and atlas-derived transcriptomics. Ninety-one percent of the patients responded positively to treatment, with a more striking improvement recorded in the pediatric population. Probabilistic mapping revealed an optimized surgical target within the posterior-inferior-lateral region of the posterior hypothalamic area. Normative connectomic analyses identified fiber tracts and functionally connected with brain areas associated with sensorimotor function, emotional regulation, and monoamine production. Functional connectivity between the target, periaqueductal gray and key limbic areas – together with patient age – were highly predictive of treatment outcome. Transcriptomic analysis showed that genes involved in mechanisms of aggressive behavior, neuronal communication, plasticity and neuroinflammation might underlie this functional network.