Dorsal striatum does not mediate feedback-based, stimulus-response learning: An event-related fMRI study in patients with Parkinson's disease tested on and off dopaminergic therapy
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© 2018 Learning associations between stimuli and responses is essential to everyday life. Dorsal striatum (DS) has long been implicated in stimulus-response learning, though recent results challenge this contention. We have proposed that discrepant findings arise because stimulus-response learning methodology generally confounds learning and response selection processes. In 19 patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and 18 age-matched controls, we found that dopaminergic therapy decreased the efficiency of stimulus-response learning, with corresponding attenuation of ventral striatum (VS) activation. In contrast, exogenous dopamine improved response selection accuracy related to enhanced DS BOLD signal. Contrasts between PD patients and controls fully support these within-subject patterns. These double dissociations in terms of behaviour and neural activity related to VS and DS in PD and in response to dopaminergic therapy, strongly refute the view that DS mediates stimulus-response learning through feedback. Our findings integrate with a growing literature favouring a role for DS in decision making rather than learning, and unite two literature that have been evolving independently.