Fractionating adaptive learning: A meta-analysis of the reversal learning paradigm

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 Jul;102:85-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.04.006. Epub 2019 Apr 18.


In constantly changing environments, individuals need to overcome old habitual behaviors in order to learn new associations. Neuroimaging studies have focused on prediction errors, reversal errors and reversal switching in the reversal learning paradigm. Due to the inconsistencies of brain functioning across studies, we attempt to shed light on the concordant activity by performing meta-analyses on different components of reversal learning. While all contrasts yielded anterior cingulate and bilateral insulae, specifically prediction errors yielded more concordant activity within the striatum and amygdala, reversal errors yielded more concordant bilateral frontal-parietal activity, and more concordant inferior frontal cortical occurred from reversal switching. These findings suggest that reversal learning is supported by a core saliency network in all aspects of reversal learning as well as other reward and control related regions in distinct stages of this cognitively complex task. Our meta-analyses results provide stereotaxic maps that can be used for further neuroimaging work on adaptive learning.

Keywords: Adaptation; FMRI; Flexibility; Prediction errors; Reversal errors; Reversal learning.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Reversal Learning / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*