Beta-gamma oscillation reveals learning from unexpected reward in learners versus non-learners

Wang, J., Zhang, J., Li, P., Martens, S. & Luo, Y., Aug-2019, In : Neuropsychologia. 131, p. 266-274 9 p.

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  • Beta-gamma oscillation reveals learning from unexpected reward in learners versus non-learners

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Beta-gamma oscillation has been demonstrated to be sensitive to unexpected reward feedback. However, it remains unclear whether beta-gamma activity manifests individual differences in reinforcement learning processing. Given that individuals differ largely in reinforcement learning tasks, we adapted the Friedland task and split subjects into two groups: learners who learned to choose the optimal card after training and non-learners who did not learn well. We used recorded electroencephalography signals to test the difference in brain activity between the learners and non-learners groups when participants conducted a time estimation task and received win and loss feedback in expected and unexpected conditions. The results revealed that the unexpected condition elicited a larger reward positivity amplitude than did the expected condition, but only in the learners group. No significant difference was found between the two groups for the expectancy effect on frontal-midline theta. The current results thus demonstrate that for learners, unexpected win feedback elicits a larger beta-gamma oscillation than expected win feedback, while this was not the case for non-learners. These results indicate that beta-gamma oscillation may reflect effective learning from positive reward prediction error, a finding that adds to the existing theories on learning processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2019


  • Beta-gamma, FMT, Individual differences, Reinforcement learning, Reward positivity

ID: 92696797