Individual differences in experienced and observational decision-making illuminate interactions between reinforcement learning and declarative memory

Batel Yifrah, Ayelet Ramaty, Genela Morris, Avi Mendelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Decision making can be shaped both by trial-and-error experiences and by memory of unique contextual information. Moreover, these types of information can be acquired either by means of active experience or by observing others behave in similar situations. The interactions between reinforcement learning parameters that inform decision updating and memory formation of declarative information in experienced and observational learning settings are, however, unknown. In the current study, participants took part in a probabilistic decision-making task involving situations that either yielded similar outcomes to those of an observed player or opposed them. By fitting alternative reinforcement learning models to each subject, we discerned participants who learned similarly from experience and observation from those who assigned different weights to learning signals from these two sources. Participants who assigned different weights to their own experience versus those of others displayed enhanced memory performance as well as subjective memory strength for episodes involving significant reward prospects. Conversely, memory performance of participants who did not prioritize their own experience over others did not seem to be influenced by reinforcement learning parameters. These findings demonstrate that interactions between implicit and explicit learning systems depend on the means by which individuals weigh relevant information conveyed via experience and observation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5899
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an Israel Science Foundation (ISF) Grant #1032/19. We would like to thank Alex Pine, Baruch Eitam and Uri Hertz for providing comments on the manuscript, and Nitza Barkan for statistical consultations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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