The firing of dopaminergic midbrain neurons is thought to reflect prediction errors (PE) that depend on the difference between the value of expected and received rewards. However, recent work has demonstrated that unexpected changes in value-neutral outcome features, such as identity, can evoke similar responses. It remains unclear whether the magnitude of these identity PEs scales with the perceptual dissimilarity of expected and received rewards, or whether they are independent of perceptual similarity. We used a Pavlovian transreinforcer reversal task to elicit identity PEs for value-matched food odor rewards, drawn from two perceptual categories (sweet, savory). Replicating previous findings, identity PEs were correlated with fMRI activity in midbrain, OFC, piriform cortex, and amygdala. However, the magnitude of identity PE responses was independent of the perceptual distance between expected and received outcomes, suggesting that identity comparisons underlying sensory PEs may occur in an abstract state space independent of straightforward sensory percepts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)