Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Psychiatry. 2013 May 1;73(9):869-76. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.11.019. Epub 2013 Jan 8.

Elevated reward region responsivity predicts future substance use onset but not overweight/obesity onset.

Author information

Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, Oregon, USA.



We tested the hypotheses that adolescents who show elevated reward region responsivity are at increased risk for initial onset of overweight/obesity and substance use, which is important because there have been no such prospective tests of the reward surfeit model of these motivated behaviors.


One hundred sixty-two adolescents (mean age = 15.3±1.06 years) with healthy weights (mean body mass index = 20.8±1.90) completed functional magnetic resonance imaging paradigms that assessed neural activation in response to receipt and anticipated receipt of palatable food and monetary reward; body fat and substance use were assessed at baseline and 1-year follow-up.


Elevated caudate (r = .31, p<.001) and putamen (r = .28, p<.001) response to monetary reward predicted substance use onset over 1-year follow-up, but reward circuitry responsivity did not predict future overweight/obesity onset. Adolescents who reported substance use versus abstinence at baseline also showed less caudate (r =-.31, p<.001) response to monetary reward.


Results show that hyper-responsivity of reward circuitry increases risk for future substance use onset, providing novel support for the reward surfeit model. Results also imply that even a limited substance use history was associated with reduced reward region responsivity, extending results from studies that compared substance-dependent individuals with healthy control subjects and suggesting that substance use downregulates reward circuitry. However, aberrant reward region responsivity did not predict initial unhealthy weight gain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center