Stress effects on learning and feedback-related neural activity depend on feedback delay

  • Depending on feedback timing, the neural structures involved in learning differ, with the dopamine system including the dorsal striatum and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) being more important for learning from immediate than delayed feedback. As stress has been shown to promote striatum-dependent learning, the current study aimed to explore if stress differentially affects learning from and processing of immediate and delayed feedback. One group of male participants was stressed using the socially evaluated cold pressor test, and another group underwent a control condition. Subsequently, participants performed a reward learning task with immediate (500 ms) and delayed (6,500 ms) feedback while brain activity was assessed with electroencephalography (EEG). While stress enhanced the accuracy for delayed relative to immediate feedback, it reduced the feedback-related negativity (FRN) valence effect, which is the amplitude difference between negative and positive feedback. For the P300, a reduced valence effect was found in the stress group only for delayed feedback. Frontal theta power was most pronounced for immediate negative feedback and was generally reduced under stress. Moreover, stress reduced associations of FRN and theta power with trial-by-trial accuracy. Associations between stress-induced cortisol increases and EEG components were examined using linear mixed effects analyses, which showed that the described stress effects were accompanied by associations between the stress-induced cortisol increases and feedback processing. The results indicate that stress and cortisol affect different aspects of feedback processing. Instead of an increased recruitment of the dopamine system and the ACC, the results may suggest enhanced salience processing and reduced cognitive control under stress.

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Author:Marcus PaulORCiDGND, Christian BellebaumORCiDGND, Marta GhioORCiDGND, Boris SuchanORCiDGND, Oliver T. WolfORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Psychophysiology
Place of publication:Weinheim
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2024/03/11
Date of first Publication:2019/09/03
Publishing Institution:Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsbibliothek
Tag:EEG; P300; feedback delay; feedback learning; feedback-related negativity; frontal theta; stress
Issue:2, Artikel e13471
First Page:e13471-1
Last Page:e13471-18
Dieser Beitrag ist auf Grund des DEAL-Wiley-Vertrages frei zugänglich.
Institutes/Facilities:Institut für Kognitive Neurowissenschaft, Abteilung Kognitionspsychologie
Dewey Decimal Classification:Philosophie und Psychologie / Psychologie
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
faculties:Fakultät für Psychologie
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY 4.0 - Attribution 4.0 International