Prosocial Reward Learning in Children and Adolescents.

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2016

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Abstract

Adolescence is a period of increased sensitivity to social contexts. To evaluate how social context sensitivity changes over development-and influences reward learning-we investigated how children and adolescents perceive and integrate rewards for oneself and others during a dynamic risky decision-making task. Children and adolescents (N = 75, 8-16 years) performed the Social Gambling Task (SGT, Kwak et al., 2014) and completed a set of questionnaires measuring other-regarding behavior. In the SGT, participants choose amongst four card decks that have different payout structures for oneself and for a charity. We examined patterns of choices, overall decision strategies, and how reward outcomes led to trial-by-trial adjustments in behavior, as estimated using a reinforcement-learning model. Performance of children and adolescents was compared to data from a previously collected sample of adults (N = 102) performing the identical task. We found that that children/adolescents were not only more sensitive to rewards directed to the charity than self but also showed greater prosocial tendencies on independent measures of other-regarding behavior. Children and adolescents also showed less use of a strategy that prioritizes rewards for self at the expense of rewards for others. These results support the conclusion that, compared to adults, children and adolescents show greater sensitivity to outcomes for others when making decisions and learning about potential rewards.

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10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01539

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Kwak, Y, and SA Huettel (2016). Prosocial Reward Learning in Children and Adolescents. Front Psychol, 7. p. 1539. 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01539 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13704.

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Huettel

Scott Huettel

Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Research in my laboratory investigates the brain mechanisms underlying economic and social decision making; collectively, this research falls into the field of “decision neuroscience” or "neuroeconomics". My laboratory uses fMRI to probe brain function, behavioral assays to characterize individual differences, and other physiological methods (e.g., eye tracking, pharmacological manipulation, genetics) to link brain and behavior. Concurrent with research on basic processes, my laboratory has also investigated the application of new analysis methods for fMRI data, including functional connectivity analyses, pattern classification analyses, and combinatoric multivariate approaches. We have also been applying computational methods to problems in behavioral economics and consumer decision making.  

I have also been very active in outreach, mentorship, and educational activities; as examples, I am lead author on the textbook Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Sinauer Associates; 3rd edition in 2014), I teach Fundamentals of Decision Science, Decision Neuroscience and Neuroethics, and many of my postdoctoral and graduate trainees now lead research laboratories of their own.


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