Jason M. Scimeca, Perri L. Katzman & David Badre
Nature Communications 7, Article number: 13061 (2016) doi:10.1038/ncomms13061
Adaptive memory requires context-dependent control over how information is retrieved, evaluated and used to guide action, yet the signals that drive adjustments to memory decisions remain unknown. Here we show that prediction errors (PEs) coded by the striatum support control over memory decisions. Human participants completed a recognition memory test that incorporated biased feedback to influence participants’ recognition criterion. Using model-based fMRI, we find that PEs—the deviation between the outcome and expected value of a memory decision—correlate with striatal activity and predict individuals’ final criterion. Importantly, the striatal PEs are scaled relative to memory strength rather than the expected trial outcome. Follow-up experiments show that the learned recognition criterion transfers to free recall, and targeting biased feedback to experimentally manipulate the magnitude of PEs influences criterion consistent with PEs scaled relative to memory strength. This provides convergent evidence that declarative memory decisions can be regulated via striatally mediated reinforcement learning signals.