MAR 15, 2017 7:30 AM PDT

Model-based learning in psychiatry

Presented at: Neuroscience 2017
Speaker
  • Neuropsychiatrist and Principal Investigator, Department of Psychiatry, Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge
    Biography
      Valerie Voon is a neuropsychiatrist and neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge. She is a Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellow. She completed her psychiatry residency at the University of Toronto, a research fellowship at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a PhD in neuroscience through the University College London. Her research group uses multimodal approaches to understand mechanisms underlying impulsivity and compulsivity across repetitive behaviours.

      Dr. Voon's research group focuses on mechanisms underlying impulsivity and compulsivity and relevance to disorders of addiction across both drug and natural rewards. She uses a multimodal approach including anatomical and functional MRI, PET, pharmacological challenges, computational modelling and cognitive neuroscience. She has published extensively with over 100 peer-reviewed publications including in high impact journals such as Neuron, Molecular Psychiatry, Lancet Neurology, Annals of Neurology, Brain and Biological Psychiatry. She is a Fellow of the American Neuropsychiatric Association.

    Abstract

    Our decisions are governed by a balance between prospective instrumental goal-oriented and retrospective habitual learning strategies. This arbitration is relevant dimensionally across psychiatric disorders characterized by compulsive behaviours. The balance can be influenced by stress, working memory, cognitive control and neurochemistry such as dopamine and serotonin, features highly relevant to psychiatric disorders. Neural substrates underlying goal-directed and habit learning including conventional overtraining and devaluation and sequential learning tasks overlap with rodent preclinical models. The concept of model-based learning can be extended to include Pavlovian learning processes. Together these findings highlight a role for model-based learning across psychiatric disorders and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.


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