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Elife. 2016 Sep 20;5. pii: e17441. doi: 10.7554/eLife.17441.

Intrinsic monitoring of learning success facilitates memory encoding via the activation of the SN/VTA-Hippocampal loop.

Author information

1
Cognition and Brain Plasticity Group, Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute - IDIBELL, Barcelona, Spain.
2
Department of Basic Psychology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
3
Department of Neurology, Otto-von-Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany.
4
Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, ICREA, Barcelona, Spain.
5
Department of Biological Psychology, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.
6
Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences, Magdeburg, Germany.

Abstract

Humans constantly learn in the absence of explicit rewards. However, the neurobiological mechanisms supporting this type of internally-guided learning (without explicit feedback) are still unclear. Here, participants who completed a task in which no external reward/feedback was provided, exhibited enhanced fMRI-signals within the dopaminergic midbrain, hippocampus, and ventral striatum (the SN/VTA-Hippocampal loop) when successfully grasping the meaning of new-words. Importantly, new-words that were better remembered showed increased activation and enhanced functional connectivity between the midbrain, hippocampus, and ventral striatum. Moreover, enhanced emotion-related physiological measures and subjective pleasantness ratings during encoding were associated with remembered new-words after 24 hr. Furthermore, increased subjective pleasantness ratings were also related to new-words remembered after seven days. These results suggest that intrinsic-potentially reward-related-signals, triggered by self-monitoring of correct performance, can promote the storage of new information into long-term memory through the activation of the SN/VTA-Hippocampal loop, possibly via dopaminergic modulation of the midbrain.

KEYWORDS:

SN/VTA-Hippocampal loop; dopamine; fMRI; human; memory; neuroscience; reward; word learning

PMID:
27644419
PMCID:
PMC5030080
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.17441
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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