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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Aug 19;111(33):12252-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1407535111. Epub 2014 Aug 4.

A computational and neural model of momentary subjective well-being.

Author information

1
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom;Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom; and robb.rutledge@ucl.ac.uk.
2
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom;
3
Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, University College London, London WC1N 3AR, United Kingdom.
4
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom;Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom; and.

Abstract

The subjective well-being or happiness of individuals is an important metric for societies. Although happiness is influenced by life circumstances and population demographics such as wealth, we know little about how the cumulative influence of daily life events are aggregated into subjective feelings. Using computational modeling, we show that emotional reactivity in the form of momentary happiness in response to outcomes of a probabilistic reward task is explained not by current task earnings, but by the combined influence of recent reward expectations and prediction errors arising from those expectations. The robustness of this account was evident in a large-scale replication involving 18,420 participants. Using functional MRI, we show that the very same influences account for task-dependent striatal activity in a manner akin to the influences underpinning changes in happiness.

KEYWORDS:

dopamine; insula; reward prediction error; striatum

PMID:
25092308
PMCID:
PMC4143018
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1407535111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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