Poster B121, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Investigating individual differences in context dependent rule learning performance
Allen Chang1, Yiren Ren1, Andrew Whiteman1,2, Chantal Stern1; 1Boston University, 2University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The goal of this study was to investigate individual differences in behavioral and fMRI activity during the learning of context dependent rules. In the experiment, naive participants (n = 31) were scanned using fMRI while being asked to learn two types of rules concurrently over the course of an experimental session. There were 8 complex rules in which the correct response to pairs of stimuli was context dependent, and one 1 simple rule in which the correct response a pair of stimuli was context independent. Our analyses examined the relationship between individual behavioral performance and activity in the prefrontal cortex, medial temporal lobe, and basal ganglia. We observed a wide range of performance (range 42.9%-96% correct; median, 75.0%) across our subjects. Next, we examined how activity differed between correct and incorrect trial outcomes for context dependent rules using behavioral performance as a covariate. We found an interaction between behavioral performance and trial outcome in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), with activity in these regions lower for incorrect trials. A second analysis examined how activity for context dependent rules varied across time based on performance. We split the time course of the task into thirds and tested the interaction between time and overall performance. Activity in DLPFC and VLPFC for strong learners increased across time, while activity for poor learners decreased across time. These results suggest activity in the prefrontal cortex plays an important role in successful context dependent rule learning performance.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Goal maintenance & switching