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Behavioral choice can be characterized along two axes. One axis distinguishes reflexive, model-free systems that slowly accumulate values through experience and a model-based system that uses knowledge to reason prospectively. The second axis distinguishes Pavlovian valuation of stimuli from instrumental valuation of actions or stimulus-action pairs.
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Individual differences in drug dependence may be mediated by several abnormalities in associative learning, including perseveration of drug-seeking following contingency change, greater control over drug-seeking by Pavlovian stimuli, or greater sensitivity to drug reinforcement establishing higher rates of drug-seeking. To evaluate these three candidate markers for nicotine dependence, Experiment 1 contrasted daily (N = 22) and nondaily smoker groups (N = 22) on a novel instrumental learning task, where one S+ was first trained as a predictor of tobacco reward before being extinguished. Experiment 2 compared daily (N = 18) and nondaily smoker groups (N = 18) on a concurrent-choice task for tobacco and chocolate reward before an extinction test in which the tobacco response was extinguished, followed by a Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer test, wherein the impact of tobacco and chocolate cues on concurrent choice was measured (gender was balanced within each smoker group).

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Two experiments compared the effects of Pavlovian stimuli and incentive learning on the performance of a heterogeneous chain of instrumental actions. Using a Pavlovian-instrumental transfer design, the authors found that only a stimulus paired with the same outcome as that earned by performance of the chain produced positive transfer, an effect that was restricted to the action in the chain most proximal to reward delivery. In contrast, after a shift to a nondeprived state, only animals that had previously consumed the instrumental outcome when they were nondeprived decreased instrumental performance.

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Adaptive behavior involves interactions between systems regulating Pavlovian and instrumental control of actions. Here, we present the first investigation of the neural mechanisms underlying aversive Pavlovian-instrumental transfer using fMRI in humans. Recent evidence indicates that these Pavlovian influences on instrumental actions are action-specific: Instrumental approach is invigorated by appetitive Pavlovian cues but inhibited by aversive Pavlovian cues.

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Pavlovian learning tasks have been widely used as tools to understand basic cognitive and emotional processes in humans. The present studies investigated one particular task, Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT), with human participants in an effort to examine potential cognitive and emotional effects of Pavlovian cues upon instrumentally trained performance. In two experiments, subjects first learned two separate instrumental response-outcome relationships (i.

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