, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 361-372,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Dec 2011

Information content and reward processing in the human striatum during performance of a declarative memory task


Negative feedback can signal poor performance, but it also provides information that can help learners reach the goal of task mastery. The primary aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that the amount of information provided by negative feedback during a paired-associate learning task influences feedback-related processing in the caudate nucleus. To do this, we manipulated the number of response options: With two options, positive and negative feedback provide equal amounts of information, whereas with four options, positive feedback provides more information than does negative feedback. We found that positive and negative feedback activated the caudate similarly when there were two response options. With four options, the caudate’s response to negative feedback was reduced. A secondary goal was to investigate the link between brain-based measures of feedback-related processing and behavioral indices of learning. Analysis of the posttest measures showed that trials with positive feedback were associated with higher posttest confidence ratings. Additionally, when positive feedback was delivered, caudate activity was greater for trials with high than with low posttest confidence. This experiment demonstrated the context sensitivity of feedback processing and provided evidence that feedback processing in the striatum can contribute to the strengthening of the representations available within declarative memory.