Individual differences in behavioral flexibility in a probabilistic reversal learning task: An fMRI study

Anja Waegeman, Carolyn H. Declerck, Christophe Boone, Ruth Seurinck, Paul M. Parizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioral flexibility is an important aspect of self-regulation and involves effectively learning, unlearning, and relearning associations between actions and outcome. Using a probabilistic reversal learning paradigm (PRL), the neural correlates of flexibility have previously been associated with brain regions implicated in cognitive control, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lateral prefrontal cortex, and with the nucleus accumbens (Nacc) implicated in reward. The current study on healthy young males (n = 40) extends this previously published work in 3 ways. First we corroborate the involvement of ACC, VLPFC, and DLPFC at the exact moment of behavioral switches. Second, we report increased activation of the dACC and caudate head with increasing number of perseverating errors preceding a behavioral switch. Third, better performance on the task is associated with increased activation of rACC and VLPFC during switching, suggesting that these regions contribute to individual differences in behavioral flexibility. These findings cannot be extended to individual differences in a self-reported measure of self-regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-218
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


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