The idea that learning proceeds as a function of the discrepancy (or error) between expected and obtained outcomes is central to many theories of associative learning. However, remarkably little is known about the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie this learning of predictive errors in fear conditioning, a widely used preparation in studies of cellular and molecular mechanisms of memory. In this issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, S. Cole and G. P. McNally (2007) demonstrate an important dissociation between the establishment and regulation of predictive error at the cellular level. Their findings have added a level of complexity to currently established views of the function of NMDA and opioid receptors in learning and memory. This commentary discusses some of the implications of these findings for theoretical and neurobiological approaches to memory, as well as current thinking about the cellular circuitry involved in reward learning and drug abuse.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Behavioral Neuroscience