Constraints on decision making: Implications from genetics, personality, and addiction
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An influential neurocomputational theory of the biological mechanisms of decision making, the "basal ganglia go/no-go model," holds that individual variability in decision making is determined by differences in the makeup of a striatal system for approach and avoidance learning. The model has been tested empirically with the probabilistic selection task (PST), which determines whether individuals learn better from positive or negative feedback. In accordance with the model, in the present study we examined whether an individual's ability to learn from positive and negative reinforcement can be predicted by genetic factors related to the midbrain dopamine system. We also asked whether psychiatric and personality factors related to substance dependence and dopamine affect PST performance. Although we found characteristics that predicted individual differences in approach versus avoidance learning, these observations were qualified by additional findings that appear inconsistent with the predictions of the go/no-go model. These results highlight a need for future research to validate the PST as a measure of basal ganglia reward learning.
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