The Black Box effect: Sensory stimulation after learning interferes with the retention of long-term object location memory in rats

Rotem Botvinik-Nezer, Akram Bakkour, Tom Salomon, Daphna Shohamy, Tom Schonberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is commonly assumed that memories contribute to value-based decisions. Nevertheless, most theories of value-based decision-making do not account for memory influences on choice. Recently, new interest has emerged in the interactions between these two fundamental processes, mainly using reinforcement-based paradigms. Here, we aimed to study the role memory processes play in preference change following the nonreinforced cue-approach training (CAT) paradigm. In CAT, the mere association of cued items with a speeded motor response influences choices. Previous studies with this paradigm showed that a single training session induces a long-lasting effect of enhanced preferences for high-value trained stimuli, that is maintained for several months. We hypothesized that CAT increases memory of trained items, leading to enhanced accessibility of their positive associative memories and in turn to preference changes. In two preregistered experiments, we found evidence that memory is enhanced for trained items and that better memory is correlated with enhanced preferences at the individual item level, both immediately and 1 mo following CAT. Our findings suggest that memory plays a central role in value-based decision-making following CAT, even in the absence of external reinforcements. These findings contribute to new theories relating memory and value-based decision-making and set the groundwork for the implementation of novel nonreinforced behavioral interventions that lead to long-lasting behavioral change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-360
Number of pages13
JournalLearning and Memory
Volume28
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

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