E. De Loof
F. van Opstal
- Signed reward prediction errors drive declarative learning
- PLoS One
- Volume | Issue number
- 13 | 1
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Reward prediction errors (RPEs) are thought to drive learning. This has been established in procedural learning (e.g., classical and operant conditioning). However, empirical evidence on whether RPEs drive declarative learning–a quintessentially human form of learning–remains surprisingly absent. We therefore coupled RPEs to the acquisition of Dutch-Swahili word pairs in a declarative learning paradigm. Signed RPEs (SRPEs; “better-than-expected” signals) during declarative learning improved recognition in a follow-up test, with increasingly positive RPEs leading to better recognition. In addition, classic declarative memory mechanisms such as time-on-task failed to explain recognition performance. The beneficial effect of SRPEs on recognition was subsequently affirmed in a replication study with visual stimuli.
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