Action initiation and punishment learning differ from childhood to adolescence while reward learning remains stable

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftForschungsartikelBeigetragenBegutachtung


  • Ruth Pauli - , University of Birmingham (Autor:in)
  • Inti A Brazil - , Radboud University Medical Center (Autor:in)
  • Gregor Kohls - , Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Universitätsklinikum Aachen (Autor:in)
  • Miriam C Klein-Flügge - , University of Oxford (Autor:in)
  • Jack C Rogers - , University of Birmingham (Autor:in)
  • Dimitris Dikeos - , National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Autor:in)
  • Roberta Dochnal - , University of Szeged (Autor:in)
  • Graeme Fairchild - , University of Bath (Autor:in)
  • Aranzazu Fernández-Rivas - , Basurto University Hospital (Autor:in)
  • Beate Herpertz-Dahlmann - , Universitätsklinikum Aachen (Autor:in)
  • Amaia Hervas - , University Hospital Mutua Terrassa (Autor:in)
  • Kerstin Konrad - , Universitätsklinikum Aachen (Autor:in)
  • Arne Popma - , Amsterdam University Medical Centers (UMC) (Autor:in)
  • Christina Stadler - , Universität Basel (Autor:in)
  • Christine M Freitag - , Universitätsklinikum Frankfurt (Autor:in)
  • Stephane A De Brito - , University of Birmingham (Autor:in)
  • Patricia L Lockwood - , University of Birmingham (Autor:in)


Theoretical and empirical accounts suggest that adolescence is associated with heightened reward learning and impulsivity. Experimental tasks and computational models that can dissociate reward learning from the tendency to initiate actions impulsively (action initiation bias) are thus critical to characterise the mechanisms that drive developmental differences. However, existing work has rarely quantified both learning ability and action initiation, or it has relied on small samples. Here, using computational modelling of a learning task collected from a large sample (N = 742, 9-18 years, 11 countries), we test differences in reward and punishment learning and action initiation from childhood to adolescence. Computational modelling reveals that whilst punishment learning rates increase with age, reward learning remains stable. In parallel, action initiation biases decrease with age. Results are similar when considering pubertal stage instead of chronological age. We conclude that heightened reward responsivity in adolescence can reflect differences in action initiation rather than enhanced reward learning.


Seiten (von - bis)5689
FachzeitschriftNature communications
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 14 Sept. 2023

Externe IDs

PubMedCentral PMC10502052
Scopus 85170822309



  • Child, Humans, Adolescent, Punishment, Cognition, Learning, Computer Simulation, Reward