Poster F132, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Stengthening Goal-directed Decision Making through a Cognitive Intervention
Maria Eckstein1, Anne Collins1; 1University of California at Berkeley
Much of everyday decision making is based on habits, which are fixed stimulus-response associations. Nevertheless, humans can also plan actions to achieve desired goals, mentally simulating potential sequences of choices and their outcomes. The distinction between habitual and goal-directed decision making can be quantitatively framed as two classes of machine learning algorithms: model-free and model-based reinforcement learning. Here we investigate whether we can manipulate the balance between habitual and goal-directed choice, selectively increasing either habitual or goal-directed control in two independent groups of human participants. Although many experimental paradigms have successfully reduced goal-directed control, none have yet achieved to increase it. We used a task-based intervention, in which participants’ model-based and model-free decision strategies were assessed pre- and post-intervention employing a widely used 2-step decision task (Daw et al., 2011). The intervention consisted of exposure to two unrelated cognitive tasks in each condition, which were tailored to engage either model-based or model-free processes. We predicted that each intervention would selectively boost its targeted process, increasing the weight of model-based to model-free control in learning, or decreasing it, respectively. Results supported our predictions: regression revealed an interaction between testing time (pre vs. post) and intervention (model-based vs. model-free) on the weight of model-based to model-free control, estimated by computational modeling. Our findings show that it might be possible to purposefully strengthen goal-directed decision making, a process potentially distorted in psychiatric conditions such as ADHD and depression, which is of great relevance to make successful long-term decisions in everyday life.
Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making