Humans learn about the world in a variety of manners, including by observation, by associating cues in the environment, and via feedback. Across species, two brain structures have been predominantly involved in these learning processes: the hippocampus—supporting learning via observation and paired association—and the striatum—critical for feedback learning. This simple dichotomy, however, has recently been challenged by reports of hippocampal engagement in feedback learning, although the role of the hippocampus is not fully understood. The purpose of this experiment was to characterize the hippocampal response during feedback learning by manipulating varying levels of memory interference. Consistent with prior reports, feedback learning recruited the striatum and midbrain. Notably, feedback learning also engaged the hippocampus. The level of activity in these regions was modulated by the degree of memory interference, such that the greatest activation occurred during the highest level of memory interference. Importantly, the accuracy of information learned via feedback correlated with hippocampal activation and was reduced by the presence of high memory interference. Taken together, these findings provide evidence of hippocampal involvement in feedback learning by demonstrating both its relevance for the accuracy of information learned via feedback and its susceptibility to interference.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience
- Basal ganglia
- Probabilistic learning