Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Signatures of Pavlovian and Instrumental Valuation Systems during a Modified Orthogonalized Go/No-go Task.


Motivational (i.e., Pavlovian) values interfere with instrumental responding and can lead to suboptimal decision-making. In humans, task-based neuroimaging studies have only recently started illuminating the functional neuroanatomy of Pavlovian biasing of instrumental control. To provide a mechanistic understanding of the neural dynamics underlying the Pavlovian and instrumental valuation systems, analysis of neuroimaging data has been informed by computational modeling of conditioned behavior. Nonetheless, because of collinearities in Pavlovian and instrumental predictions, previous research failed to tease out hemodynamic activity that is parametrically and dynamically modulated by coexistent Pavlovian and instrumental value expectations. Moreover, neural correlates of Pavlovian to instrumental transfer effects have so far only been identified in extinction (i.e., in the absence of learning). In this study, we devised a modified version of the orthogonalized go/no-go paradigm, which introduced Pavlovian-only catch trials to better disambiguate trial-by-trial Pavlovian and instrumental predictions in both sexes. We found that hemodynamic activity in the ventromedial pFC covaried uniquely with the model-derived Pavlovian value expectations. Notably, modulation of neural activity encoding for instrumental predictions in the supplementary motor cortex was linked to successful action selection in conflict conditions. Furthermore, hemodynamic activity in regions pertaining to the limbic system and medial pFC was correlated with synergistic Pavlovian and instrumental predictions and improved conditioned behavior during congruent trials. Altogether, our results provide new insights into the functional neuroanatomy of decision-making and corroborate the validity of our variant of the orthogonalized go/no-go task as a behavioral assay of the Pavlovian and instrumental valuation systems.