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Reward Prediction Error, and Why People Like to Learn

Written on:October 24, 2012
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When we engage in deliberation we hope that the participants will learn and get informed during the process. But people get most of their knowledge from day to day learning, and not while they deliberate. People learn by watching news, reading, self experiencing and more. If we want to understand how we can improve learning while deliberating and also while people exprience the world, we should understand what make people learn. One of the rising theories about the paths of learning in the brain is the RPE theory (Reward Prediction Error). It was found that when people expect reward ans the reward is higher or lawer then they expected, dopamine is released in the brain and create synaptic plasticity and thous cause the brain to be more receptive to learning. This process, called RPE, is perceived by people as something surprising, which will cause them to try to understand the reasons for the unexpected phenomena. It also seems that in some way the RPE also causes good feelings, and therefore encourge people to experience and learn new things,and to look for novel experience. I suggest that if we will understand the RPE response, we will have better understanding on how to develop better deliberation and public learning.

In a paper published in PNAS by Paul Glimcher the theory of RPE is reviewed: Understanding dopamine and reinforcement learning: The dopamine reward prediction error hypothesis.

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