Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Recent work suggests that fluctuations in dopamine delivery at target structures represent an evaluation of future events that can be used to direct learning and decision-making. To examine the behavioral consequences of this interpretation, we gave simple decision-making tasks to 66 human subjects and to a network based on a predictive model of mesencephalic dopamine systems. The human subjects displayed behavior similar to the network behavior in terms of choice allocation and the character of deliberation times. The agreement between human and model performances suggests a direct relationship between biases in human decision strategies and fluctuating dopamine delivery. We also show that the model offers a new interpretation of deficits that result when dopamine levels are increased or decreased through disease or pharmacological interventions. The bottom-up approach presented here also suggests that a variety of behavioral strategies may result from the expression of relatively simple neural mechanisms in different behavioral contexts.