April 12, 2021

Dopamine enhances model-free credit assignment through boosting of retrospective model-based inference

Dopamine is implicated in signalling model-free (MF) reward prediction errors and various aspects of model-based (MB) credit assignment and choice. Recently, we showed that cooperative interactions between MB and MF systems include guidance of MF credit assignment by MB inference. Here, we used a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects design to test the hypothesis that enhancing dopamine levels, using levodopa, boosts the guidance of MF credit assignment by MB inference. We found that levodopa enhanced retrospective guidance of MF credit assignment by MB inference, without impacting on MF and MB influences per se. This drug effect positively correlated with working memory, but only in a context where reward needed to be recalled for MF credit assignment. The dopaminergic enhancement in MB-MF interactions correlated negatively with a dopamine-dependent change in MB credit assignment, possibly reflecting a potential trade-off between these two components of behavioural control. Thus, our findings demonstrate that dopamine boosts MB inference during guidance of MF learning, supported in part by working memory, but trading-off with a dopaminergic enhancement of MB credit assignment. The findings highlight a novel role for a DA influence on MB-MF interactions.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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