Poster Session C, Sunday, March 24, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Corticostriatal white-matter tracts supporting habitual behavior in the lab and in real life
Irene van de Vijver1, Aukje Verhoeven1, Sanne de Wit1; 1University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Goal-directed and habitual performance on an outcome-devaluation paradigm (the Slips-of-Action Task; SoAT) have been related to distinct frontostriatal pathways, between caudate nucleus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and between putamen and premotor cortex, respectively. Our first aim was to replicate this neural distinction in a larger sample, and our second aim was to extend this investigation to real-life habit formation. 207 young adults underwent structural MRI and performed the SoAT. We correlated individual differences in striatally-seeded white-matter tract probabilities with the tendency towards habitual behavior, or ‘slips’ of action. Preliminary results indicate no correlation with the previously reported frontostriatal pathways. Rather, connectivity between the striatum and sensorimotor, parietal, and occipital cortices predicted higher levels of goal-directed performance. Next, a subset of 65 participants was instructed to take a (placebo) pill every day for two weeks, and to report on the experienced automaticity. Automaticity was related to the number of pills successfully taken, and, interestingly, participants reporting higher automaticity also showed greater habit tendencies on the SoAT. The number of pills successfully taken correlated positively with tracts between the striatum and bilateral frontopolar cortex, in line with its supposed role in prospective memory. After correcting for the number of pills taken, automaticity correlated negatively with tracts between the striatum and bilateral insula and anterior cingulate cortex, areas that have been related to self-awareness. These results suggest that depending on the context, habitual behavior is subserved by a diverse network of brain areas, the co-operation of which requires further investigation.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Goal maintenance & switching