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Disorders of compulsivity: a common bias towards learning habits

Voon, V., Derbyshire, K., Ruck, C., Irvine, M.A., Worbe, Y., Enander, J., Schreiber, L.R.N., Gillan, C., Fineberg, N.A., Sahakian, B.J., Robbins, T.W., Harrison, N.A. ORCID:, Wood, J., Daw, N.D., Dayan, P., Grant, J.E. and Bullmore, E.T. 2015. Disorders of compulsivity: a common bias towards learning habits. Molecular Psychiatry 20 (3) , pp. 345-352. 10.1038/mp.2014.44

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Why do we repeat choices that we know are bad for us? Decision making is characterized by the parallel engagement of two distinct systems, goal-directed and habitual, thought to arise from two computational learning mechanisms, model-based and model-free. The habitual system is a candidate source of pathological fixedness. Using a decision task that measures the contribution to learning of either mechanism, we show a bias towards model-free (habit) acquisition in disorders involving both natural (binge eating) and artificial (methamphetamine) rewards, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This favoring of model-free learning may underlie the repetitive behaviors that ultimately dominate in these disorders. Further, we show that the habit formation bias is associated with lower gray matter volumes in caudate and medial orbitofrontal cortex. Our findings suggest that the dysfunction in a common neurocomputational mechanism may underlie diverse disorders involving compulsion.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group: Open Access Hybrid Model Option B
ISSN: 1359-4184
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 14:04

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