Studies of Pavlovian conditioning have enriched our understanding of how relations among events can adaptively guide behavior through the formation and use of internal mental representations. In this review, we illustrate how internal representations flexibly integrate new updated information in reinforcer revaluation to influence relationships to impact actions and outcomes. We highlight representation-mediated learning to show the similarities in properties and functions between internally generated and directly activated representations, and how normal perception of internal representations could contribute to hallucinations. Converging evidence emerges from recent behavioral and neural activation studies using animal models of schizophrenia as well as clinical studies in patients to support increased tendencies in these populations to evoke internal representations from prior associative experience that approximate hallucination-like percepts. The heightened propensity is dependent on dopaminergic activation which is known to be sensitive to hippocampal overexcitability, a condition that has been observed in patients with psychosis. This presents a network that overlaps with cognitive neural circuits and offers a fresh approach for the development of therapeutic interventions targeting psychosis.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.