Pavlovian-instrumental interaction in 'observing behavior'

PLoS Comput Biol. 2010 Sep 9;6(9):e1000903. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000903.


Subjects typically choose to be presented with stimuli that predict the existence of future reinforcements. This so-called 'observing behavior' is evident in many species under various experimental conditions, including if the choice is expensive, or if there is nothing that subjects can do to improve their lot with the information gained. A recent study showed that the activities of putative midbrain dopamine neurons reflect this preference for observation in a way that appears to challenge the common prediction-error interpretation of these neurons. In this paper, we provide an alternative account according to which observing behavior arises from a small, possibly Pavlovian, bias associated with the operation of working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Learning*
  • Macaca
  • Markov Chains
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Time Factors