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Behav Brain Res. 2009 Jan 30;197(1):62-76. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.08.011. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Brain signatures of monetary loss and gain: outcome-related potentials in a single outcome gambling task.

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Henri Begleiter Neurodynamics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA.


This study evaluates the event-related potential (ERP) components in a single outcome gambling task that involved monetary losses and gains. The participants were 50 healthy young volunteers (25 males and 25 females). The gambling task involved valence (loss and gain) and amount (50 cent and 10 cent) as outcomes. The outcome-related negativity (ORN/N2) and outcome-related positivity (ORP/P3) were analyzed and compared across conditions and gender. Monetary gain (compared to loss) and higher amount (50 cent compared to 10 cent) produced higher amplitudes and shorter latencies in both ORN and ORP components. Difference wave plots showed that earlier processing (200-400 ms) is dominated by the valence (loss/gain) while later processing (after 400 ms) is marked by the amount (50 cent/10 cent). Functional mapping using Low Resolution Electromagnetic Tomography (LORETA) indicated that the ORN separated the loss against gain in both genders, while the ORP activity distinguished the 50 cent against 10 cent in males. This study further strengthens the view that separate brain processes/circuitry may mediate loss and gain. Although there were no gender differences in behavioral and impulsivity scores, ORN and ORP measures for different task conditions had significant correlations with behavioral scores. This gambling paradigm may potentially offer valuable indicators to study outcome processing and impulsivity in normals as well as in clinical populations.

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