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Title: The role of reward in motivated and incidental learning
Author: Mason, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 0743
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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Dopaminergic neurons in brain regions such as the midbrain and striatum have been found to code several quantities related to reward: the reward value, reward prediction error and the risk or uncertainty of outcome. Episodic memory has been found to be sensitive to rewards presented close in time to memoranda. Reward-related enhancements in memory have been observed in both incidental and motivated learning. The work in this thesis examines the role of reward-related factors in both incidental and motivated learning. The dopaminergic memory consolidation hypothesis holds that activation of the reward system increases synaptic plasticity and therefore memory encoding in the hippocampus, and predicts an enhancing effect of uncertainty on episodic memory. Chapter 2 focused on the role of reward uncertainty in motivated learning. In a series of four experiments there was evidence against an effect of uncertainty on memory performance and consistent evidence that factors related to reward outcome are the strongest predictors of episodic memory performance. Chapter 3 investigated the role of reward uncertainty in incidental learning. Once more the results showed that there was evidence against a role of reward uncertainty. Chapter 4 compared evidence regarding the role of reward outcomes in incidental and motivated learning. Previous research has found that reward and episodic memory systems are sensitive to the contextual value of a reward - whether it is relatively higher or lower than expected. The experiments in Chapter 4 did not replicate previous published findings that memory performance associated with reward follows a pattern of adaptive scaling. An effect of reward outcome was in the opposite direction to previous findings, with lower reward outcomes leading to better memory than higher outcomes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available