Model-Based Control in Dimensional Psychiatry

Biol Psychiatry. 2017 Sep 15;82(6):391-400. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2017.04.006. Epub 2017 Apr 23.


We use parallel interacting goal-directed and habitual strategies to make our daily decisions. The arbitration between these strategies is relevant to inflexible repetitive behaviors in psychiatric disorders. Goal-directed control, also known as model-based control, is based on an affective outcome relying on a learned internal model to prospectively make decisions. In contrast, habit control, also known as model-free control, is based on an integration of previous reinforced learning autonomous of the current outcome value and is implicit and more efficient but at the cost of greater inflexibility. The concept of model-based control can be further extended into pavlovian processes. Here we describe and compare tasks that tap into these constructs and emphasize the clinical relevance and translation of these tasks in psychiatric disorders. Together, these findings highlight a role for model-based control as a transdiagnostic impairment underlying compulsive behaviors and representing a promising therapeutic target.

Keywords: Addictions; Binge eating; Compulsivity; Computational psychiatry; Goal-directed control; Habit; Model-based control; Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Goals*
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Models, Psychological