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"Reward and punishment differentially recruit cerebellum and medial temporal lobe to facilitate skill memory retention" - Steel et al. 2018

We are pleased to announce the publication of a preprint paper by Adam Steel, investigating the retention of memories via different mechanisms after training with reward and punishment.

This paper: "Reward and punishment differentially recruit cerebellum and medial temporal lobe to facilitate skill memory retention"is published online in preprint and available on BioRxiv.


Reward and punishment shape behavior, but the neural mechanisms underlying their effect on skill learning are not well understood. The premotor cortex (PMC) is known to play a central role in sequence learning and has a diverse set of structural and connections with cortical (e.g. medial temporal/parietal lobes) and subcortical (caudate/cerebellum) memory systems that might be modulated by valenced feedback. Here, we tested whether the functional connectivity of PMC immediately after training with reward or punishment predicted memory retention across two different tasks. Resting-state fMRI was collected before and after 72 participants trained on either a serial reaction time or force-tracking task with reward, punishment, or control feedback. Training-related change in PMC functional connectivity was compared across feedback groups. Reward and punishment differentially affected PMC functional connectivity: PMC-cerebellum connectivity increased following training with reward, while PMC-medial temporal lobe connectivity increased after training with punishment. Moreover, feedback impacted the relationship between PMC-caudate connectivity and 24-48hour skill memory. These results were consistent across the tasks, suggestive of a general, non-task-specific mechanism by which feedback modulates skill learning. These findings illustrate dissociable roles for the medial temporal lobe and cerebellum in skill memory retention and suggest novel ways to optimize behavioral training.