Genetically determined differences in learning from errors

Science. 2007 Dec 7;318(5856):1642-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1145044.


The role of dopamine in monitoring negative action outcomes and feedback-based learning was tested in a neuroimaging study in humans grouped according to the dopamine D2 receptor gene polymorphism DRD2-TAQ-IA. In a probabilistic learning task, A1-allele carriers with reduced dopamine D2 receptor densities learned to avoid actions with negative consequences less efficiently. Their posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC), involved in feedback monitoring, responded less to negative feedback than others' did. Dynamically changing interactions between pMFC and hippocampus found to underlie feedback-based learning were reduced in A1-allele carriers. This demonstrates that learning from errors requires dopaminergic signaling. Dopamine D2 receptor reduction seems to decrease sensitivity to negative action consequences, which may explain an increased risk of developing addictive behaviors in A1-allele carriers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dopamine / physiology*
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / genetics*
  • Receptors, Dopamine D2 / metabolism
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Dopamine D2
  • Dopamine