Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

Nicholas J Grahame

Committee Member 1

Charles Goodlett

Committee Member 2

Stephen Boehm

Committee Member 3

Julia Chester


Habit formation is a well-characterized process involving a shift from response-outcome as the leading driving force underlying action to a stimulus-response mechanistic process. It is hypothesized that a transition from goal-directed behavior to habitual behavior is driven by a transition of the bulk of cognitive load from neocortical toward lower neurological mechanisms. While many neurotransmitter systems have a demonstrated involvement in this process, the dopamine system is particularly implicated. Habit formation is assessed through the maintenance of extinction responding for an undesired, or devalued, outcome.