ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

心理科学进展 ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (1): 78-86.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2023.00078

• 研究前沿 • 上一篇    下一篇


王松雪1, 程思1, 蒋挺1, 刘勋2,3, 张明霞2,3()   

  1. 1北京师范大学心理学部, 北京 100875
    2中国科学院行为科学重点实验室, 北京 100101
    3中国科学院大学心理学系, 北京 100049
  • 收稿日期:2021-09-26 出版日期:2023-01-15 发布日期:2022-10-13
  • 通讯作者: 张明霞
  • 基金资助:

The effect of external rewards on declarative memory

WANG Songxue1, CHENG Si1, JIANG Ting1, LIU Xun2,3, ZHANG Mingxia2,3()   

  1. 1Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Beijing 100101, China
    3Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2021-09-26 Online:2023-01-15 Published:2022-10-13
  • Contact: ZHANG Mingxia


学习和记忆是个体赖以生存和发展的前提, 如何取得好的学习和记忆效果是心理学和神经科学关注的重点。近年来, 许多研究揭示奖赏可以促进记忆效果, 奖赏对记忆的影响逐渐成为心理学和神经科学的热点研究课题。大脑的中脑多巴胺奖赏系统与海马记忆系统在结构和功能上均有关联。奖赏通过编码和巩固阶段以不同机制对记忆效果产生作用:在记忆编码阶段, 奖赏会激活奖赏系统、注意控制系统, 将更多认知资源分配给奖赏相关信息, 从而促进奖赏信息的记忆效果; 在记忆巩固阶段, 奖赏会促进多巴胺释放, 作用于海马对奖赏相关信息的加工, 从而促进奖赏信息的记忆效果。未来研究可以关注奖赏对行为影响的复杂模式和内在奖赏对学习记忆的影响等方面。

关键词: 奖赏, 记忆, 编码, 巩固, 神经机制


Learning and memory are the foundation of individual survival and development. Improving learning and memory is the focus of psychology and neuroscience. Recently, many studies have revealed that rewards facilitate declarative memory, and the influence of reward on declarative memory has become a hot research topic.

Rewards are related to the midbrain dopamine system, including areas such as the ventral tegmental area, the substantia nigra, and the ventral striatum, with dopamine as the relevant vital neurotransmitter. The hippocampus and adjacent cortices play an essential role in the encoding, consolidation, and retrieval of declarative memory. The midbrain reward system and the memory system (i.e., the ventral tegmental area and hippocampus) are connected both structurally and functionally. Rewards can act on memory encoding and consolidation, thus promoting memory performance. During the encoding and consolidation stages, rewards promote memory via the interaction of various brain systems (i.e., the reward system, the attention control system, and the memory system). The impact of rewards during these two stages involves different cognitive processes and neural mechanisms.

During the memory encoding stage, rewards affect both intentional and incidental memories. According to the intentional memory paradigm, participants are explicitly informed that a reward is contingent upon memory performance in a subsequent test when they encode the items. In this paradigm, this performance-dependent reward triggers the reward system and involves the attentional control system, and these two systems modulate the memory system, allocating more cognitive resources to reward-related items, thereby promoting memory with respect to these items. According to the incidental memory paradigm, rewards accompany some items during the encoding phase but are independent of memory performance regarding these items in the subsequent test. In this paradigm, participants are not aware of the subsequent memory test before they process the information; thus, the reward enhancement effect on memory can mainly be explained in terms of the interaction between the memory system and the reward system. However, even though participants do not intentionally allocate cognitive resources in this context, the rewarded items themselves automatically attract attention. Therefore, the influence of attention and the involvement of the attentional control system cannot be excluded entirely.

During the memory consolidation stage, the addition of a reward also affects memory performance, and the influence of attention can be excluded entirely at this stage; thus, the enhancement effect on memory consolidation can be explained in terms of pure reward. During the consolidation stage, the hippocampal memory system reactivates the encoded content. The reward facilitates dopamine release, modulates the hippocampal processing of reward-related items, and enhances the reactivation of reward-related items, thus directly affecting memory performance without the involvement of the attentional control system.

Future research should focus on the following three areas. First, rewards affect behavior not in terms of a simple and pure enhancement pattern but rather according to a complex pattern. The factors and mechanisms that impact the effect of rewards on memory must be clarified, and a more consummate model of the reward effect on memory should be developed to provide more accurate guidance for learning in real life (i.e., a model of when and how rewards should be applied in education). Second, only a few studies have investigated the effects of rewards during the memory consolidation and retrieval stages. More attention should be given to the effects of rewards during these two stages (i.e., the ways in which rewards affect consolidation during different states as well as memory retrieval and subsequent memory). Finally, most studies have investigated the effects of external rewards on memory, and future research should focus on the impacts of internal rewards on learning and memory. We should compare the behavioral patterns and neural mechanisms associated with the effects of internal and external rewards on memory and test the interaction effect of internal and external rewards on memory.

Key words: reward, memory, encoding, consolidation, neural mechanisms