abstract Bianca Wittmann

Bianca Wittmann (University of Gießen)

Mesolimbic modulation of learning and memory

Motivational signals are of fundamental importance for all organisms, helping us categorize the world into desirable and undesirable, interesting and irrelevant events. These signals not only shape our actions but also modulate cognitive processes such as memory. The mesolimbic dopaminergic system plays a central role in both of these aspects of incentive motivation. In a series of fMRI experiments, we investigated the modulatory influence of reward and punishment on episodic memory and learned fear. Activity in the mesolimbic network is associated with enhanced long-term memory for motivational stimuli.

Genetic and pharmacological data support the idea that these fMRI results reflect dopaminergic processes. Our results provide evidence that dopamine modulates learning and memory in humans.