We recently provided evidence that an intrinsic reward-related signal—triggered by successful learning in absence of any external feedback—modulated the entrance of new information into long-term memory via the activation of the dopaminergic midbrain, hippocampus, and ventral striatum (the SN/VTA-Hippocampal loop; Ripollés et al., 2016). Here, we used a double- blind, within-subject randomized pharmacological intervention to test whether this learning process is indeed dopamine-dependent. A group of healthy individuals completed three behavioral sessions of a language-learning task after the intake of different pharmacological treatments: a dopaminergic precursor, a dopamine receptor antagonist or a placebo. Results show that the pharmacological intervention modulated behavioral measures of both learning and pleasantness, inducing memory benefits after 24 hr only for those participants with a high sensitivity to reward. These results provide causal evidence for a dopamine-dependent mechanism instrumental in intrinsically regulated learning and further suggest that subject-specific reward sensitivity drastically alters learning success.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)