Dopaminergic Genes Predict Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Confirmation Bias Journal Article uri icon



  • The striatum is critical for the incremental learning of values associated with behavioral actions. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) represents abstract rules and explicit contingencies to support rapid behavioral adaptation in the absence of cumulative experience. Here we test two alternative models of the interaction between these systems, and individual differences thereof, when human subjects are instructed with prior information about reward contingencies that may or may not be accurate. Behaviorally, subjects are overly influenced by prior instructions, at the expense of learning true reinforcement statistics. Computational analysis found that this pattern of data is best accounted for by a confirmation bias mechanism in which prior beliefs—putatively represented in PFC—influence the learning that occurs in the striatum such that reinforcement statistics are distorted. We assessed genetic variants affecting prefrontal and striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission. A polymorphism in the COMT gene (rs4680), associated with prefrontal dopaminergic function, was predictive of the degree to which participants persisted in responding in accordance with prior instructions even as evidence against their veracity accumulated. Polymorphisms in genes associated with striatal dopamine function (DARPP-32, rs907094, and DRD2, rs6277) were predictive of learning from positive and negative outcomes. Notably, these same variants were predictive of the degree to which such learning was overly inflated or neglected when outcomes are consistent or inconsistent with prior instructions. These findings indicate dissociable neurocomputational and genetic mechanisms by which initial biases are strengthened by experience.

publication date

  • April 20, 2011

has restriction

  • hybrid

Date in CU Experts

  • June 16, 2014 9:24 AM

Full Author List

  • Doll BB; Hutchison KE; Frank MJ

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0270-6474

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-2401

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 6188

end page

  • 6198


  • 31


  • 16