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Séminaire impromptu - Vincent LAURENTExcitatory and inhibitory stimuli exert contrasting effect on choice between actions

Abstract :

 Humans and other animals have the capacity to extract predictive information from their environment to anticipate important events.
This capacity entails learning about both excitatory stimuli that positively predict these events and about inhibitory stimuli that provide negative predictions. Here, I will present a series of experiments showing that excitatory and inhibitory stimuli can be dissociated by their respective influence on choice between actions.
Specifically, we found that a stimulus predicting a particular appetitive outcome guides choice towards actions earning that same outcome. In contrast, a stimulus predicting the absence of a particular outcome biases choice away from actions earning that outcome and towards actions delivering a different outcome. These opposing patterns of choice triggered by the two types of stimuli were observed in humans, rats and mice, and were found to rely on similar neural pathways, but also distinct ones.

These findings have at least two important implications. First, they suggest that the content of inhibitory learning can be highly specific. Second, they reveal that current theories of decision-making must be updated to explain the effects of inhibitory stimuli on choice between actions.

Selected publications

Extinction of relapsed fear does not require the basolateral amygdala. Nura W. Lingawi, R. Frederick Westbrook, Vincent Laurent. School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia /Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 139 (2017) 149–156

Extinction and Latent Inhibition Involve a Similar Form of Inhibitory Learning that is Stored in and Retrieved from the Infralimbic Cortex. Lingawi NW, Westbrook RF, Laurent V. Cereb Cortex. 2016 Oct 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Extinction Generates Outcome-Specific Conditioned Inhibition. Laurent V, Chieng B, Balleine BW. Curr Biol. 2016 Dec 5;26(23):3169-3175. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.09.021.

Factual and Counterfactual Action-Outcome Mappings Control Choice between Goal-Directed Actions in Rats.. Laurent V, Balleine BW. Curr Biol. 2015 Apr 20;25(8):1074-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.044