Corticostriatal Connectivity Underlies Individual Differences in the Balance between Habitual and Goal-Directed Action Control
Sanne de Wit, Poppy Watson, Helga A. Harsay, Michael X. Cohen, Irene van de Vijver, and K. Richard Ridderinkhof
J. Neurosci. 2012;32 12066-12075
Why are some individuals more susceptible to the formation of inflexible habits than others? In the present study, we used diffusion tensor imaging to demonstrate that brain connectivity predicts individual differences in relative goal-directed and habitual behavioral control in humans. Specifically, vulnerability to habitual “slips of action” toward no-longer-rewarding outcomes was predicted by estimated white matter tract strength in the premotor cortex seeded from the posterior putamen (as well as by gray matter density in the posterior putamen as determined with voxel-based morphometry). In contrast, flexible goal-directed action was predicted by estimated tract strength in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex seeded from the caudate. These findings suggest that integrity of dissociable corticostriatal pathways underlies individual differences in action control in the healthy population, which may ultimately mediate vulnerability to impulse control disorders.