Disruption of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases model-based in favor of model-free control in humans

Peter Smittenaar, Thomas H B FitzGerald, Vincenzo Romei, Nicholas D Wright, Raymond J Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


Human choice behavior often reflects a competition between inflexible computationally efficient control on the one hand and a slower more flexible system of control on the other. This distinction is well captured by model-free and model-based reinforcement learning algorithms. Here, studying human subjects, we show it is possible to shift the balance of control between these systems by disruption of right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, such that participants manifest a dominance of the less optimal model-free control. In contrast, disruption of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex impaired model-based performance only in those participants with low working memory capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)914-919
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Choice Behavior
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Models, Neurological
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Young Adult

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