Journal Article Roles of dopamine neurons in mediating the prediction error in aversive learning in insects

Terao, Kanta  ,  Mizunami, Makoto

7p.14694 , 2017-10-31 , Nature Publishing Group
In associative learning in mammals, it is widely accepted that the discrepancy, or error, between actual and predicted reward determines whether learning occurs. The prediction error theory has been proposed to account for the finding of a blocking phenomenon, in which pairing of a stimulus X with an unconditioned stimulus (US) could block subsequent association of a second stimulus Y to the US when the two stimuli were paired in compound with the same US. Evidence for this theory, however, has been imperfect since blocking can also be accounted for by competitive theories. We recently reported blocking in classical conditioning of an odor with water reward in crickets. We also reported an "autoblocking" phenomenon in appetitive learning, which supported the prediction error theory and rejected alternative theories. The presence of auto-blocking also suggested that octopamine neurons mediate reward prediction error signals. Here we show that blocking and auto-blocking occur in aversive learning to associate an odor with salt water (US) in crickets, and our results suggest that dopamine neurons mediate aversive prediction error signals. We conclude that the prediction error theory is applicable to both appetitive learning and aversive learning in insects.

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