A Neural Pathway for Nonreinforced Preference Change

Tom Schonberg, Leor N. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


How is value processed in the brain to inform decision making? A plethora of studies describe how preferences are shaped by experience with external reinforcements. While research on this reinforced pathway is well established, far less research has explored the neural pathways promoting preference change in the absence of external reinforcements. Here, we review behavioral paradigms linking nonreinforced preference change with manipulations of stimulus exposure, response, and gaze position. Based on this work, we propose that several brain regions traditionally associated with selective attention constitute a pathway for nonreinforced preference change. Together, this nonreinforced pathway (termed here the dorsal value pathway; DVP) and the more famously studied reinforced pathway (ventral value pathway; VVP), interface with prefrontal regions of the primate brain to guide value-based decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-514
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • attention
  • behavior
  • nonreinforced preference change
  • reinforcement
  • value


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