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Neuron. 2004 Jan 22;41(2):281-92.

Modulation of caudate activity by action contingency.

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Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


Research has increasingly implicated the striatum in the processing of reward-related information in both animals and humans. However, it is unclear whether human striatal activation is driven solely by the hedonic properties of rewards or whether such activation is reliant on other factors, such as anticipation of upcoming reward or performance of an action to earn a reward. We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate hemodynamic responses to monetary rewards and punishments in three experiments that made use of an oddball paradigm. We presented reward and punishment displays randomly in time, following an anticipatory cue, or following a button press response. Robust and differential activation of the caudate nucleus occurred only when a perception of contingency existed between the button press response and the outcome. This finding suggests that the caudate is involved in reinforcement of action potentially leading to reward, rather than in processing reward per se.

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