Skip Navigation

Home : Behavioral Tasks : Tasks : Reinforcer Revaluation


Reinforcer Revaluation

Description: Reinforcer revaluation assesses the behavioral impact of changes in the value of a reward. The critical test phase in the assessment depends on several key functions that integrate affective and cognitive processes, including the prospective encoding of predicted events. An associative learning task serves as a background in this assessment and can consist of either instrumental or Pavlovian conditioning. When learning is established, a treatment is then implemented to alter the value of the reinforcer. For example, in reinforcer ‘devaluation’ a food used during training can be devalued by allowing free access to the food (e.g. selective satiation) or by conditioned taste-aversion (food paired with illness). The primary data of interest are then obtained in a ‘devaluation test’ conducted in the absence of the reinforcer itself. Normally, animals will spontaneously adapt in a devaluation test, for example, suppressing instrumental behavior or conditioned responses that would lead to the devalued outcome.

Purpose: Across studies in rodents, non-human primates (monkeys), and humans the recent use of reinforcer devaluation procedures has shown dependence on a common set of circuits in the mammalian forebrain, critically including connections between the amygdala (basolateral region) and prefrontal cortex (orbital prefrontal). Thus devaluation procedures can be useful to probe the functional integrity of such forebrain circuits.

View and Download Detailed Protocol(s):
Devaluation - Instrumental
Devaluation - Pavlovian

Copyright © 2011 The Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences