Exploration permits acquisition of the most relevant information during learning. However, the specific information needed, the influences of this information on decision making, and the relevant neural mechanisms remain poorly understood. We modeled distinct information types available during contextual association learning and used model-based fMRI in conjunction with manipulation of exploratory decision making to identify neural activity associated with information-based decisions. We identified hippocampal-prefrontal contributions to advantageous decisions based on immediately available novel information, distinct from striatal contributions to advantageous decisions based on the sum total available (accumulated) information. Furthermore, network-level interactions among these regions during exploratory decision making were related to learning success. These findings link strategic exploration decisions during learning to quantifiable information and advance understanding of adaptive behavior by identifying the distinct and interactive nature of brain-network contributions to decisions based on distinct information types.
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