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Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Jun;29(11):2225-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06796.x. Epub 2009 May 21.

A specific role for posterior dorsolateral striatum in human habit learning.

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Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07102, USA.


Habits are characterized by an insensitivity to their consequences and, as such, can be distinguished from goal-directed actions. The neural basis of the development of demonstrably outcome-insensitive habitual actions in humans has not been previously characterized. In this experiment, we show that extensive training on a free-operant task reduces the sensitivity of participants' behavior to a reduction in outcome value. Analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data acquired during training revealed a significant increase in task-related cue sensitivity in a right posterior putamen-globus pallidus region as training progressed. These results provide evidence for a shift from goal-directed to habit-based control of instrumental actions in humans, and suggest that cue-driven activation in a specific region of dorsolateral posterior putamen may contribute to the habitual control of behavior in humans.

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