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J Neurosci. 2001 Aug 15;21(16):RC159.

Anticipation of increasing monetary reward selectively recruits nucleus accumbens.

Author information

  • 1National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1610, USA. knutson@odin.niaaa.nih.gov

Abstract

Comparative studies have implicated the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) in the anticipation of incentives, but the relative responsiveness of this neural substrate during anticipation of rewards versus punishments remains unclear. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated whether the anticipation of increasing monetary rewards and punishments would increase NAcc blood oxygen level-dependent contrast (hereafter, "activation") in eight healthy volunteers. Whereas anticipation of increasing rewards elicited both increasing self-reported happiness and NAcc activation, anticipation of increasing punishment elicited neither. However, anticipation of both rewards and punishments activated a different striatal region (the medial caudate). At the highest reward level ($5.00), NAcc activation was correlated with individual differences in self-reported happiness elicited by the reward cues. These findings suggest that whereas other striatal areas may code for expected incentive magnitude, a region in the NAcc codes for expected positive incentive value.

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PMID:
11459880
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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