On the relationship between learning strategy and feedback processing in the weather prediction task—Evidence from event-related potentials

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Abstract

Previous work has shown that both declarative and non-declarative strategies can be engaged in probabilistic classification learning. With respect to the neural correlates of these strategies, earlier studies have focused on the classification process itself. In the present experiment, we asked whether the feedback for classification performance is processed differently by declarative and non-declarative learners. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) while participants performed a modified version of the weather prediction task, a well-known probabilistic classification learning task. ERP analysis focused on two ERP components typically associated with feedback processing, the feedback-related negativity (FRN) and the P300. FRN amplitude was not affected by learning strategy. The P300, however, was more pronounced in declarative learners, particularly at frontal electrode site Fz. In addition, P300 topography was different in declarative learners, with amplitude differences between negative and positive feedback being more pronounced over the frontal than the parietal cortex. Differences in feedback processing between groups were still seen after declarative learners had switched to a non-declarative strategy in later phases of the task. Our findings provide evidence for different neural mechanisms of feedback processing in declarative and non-declarative learning. This difference emerges at later stages of feedback processing, after the typical time window of the FRN.

Highlights

★ Differences of feedback processing in declarative and non-declarative learning. ★ Frontal P300 more pronounced in declarative learners (DL). ★ Particularly pronounced frontal P300 for negative feedback in DL. ★ No relationship between FRN amplitude and learning strategy.

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