A specific role for posterior dorsolateral striatum in human habit learning

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


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Conditioning, Operant / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult