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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 May;100:108-128. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.02.017. Epub 2019 Feb 23.

Love is analogous to money in human brain: Coordinate-based and functional connectivity meta-analyses of social and monetary reward anticipation.

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Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China; Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition, and School of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China.
Institute of Systems Neuroscience, Medical Faculty, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany; Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Brain & Behaviour (INM-7), Research Centre Jülich, Jülich, Germany.
Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Affective and Social Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China; Center for Emotion and Brain, Shenzhen Institute of Neuroscience, Shenzhen, China; Department of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.
Beijing Key Laboratory of Learning and Cognition, and School of Psychology, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China. Electronic address:
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, Center for Studies of Psychological Application, School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China. Electronic address:


Both social and material rewards play a crucial role in daily life and function as strong incentives for various goal-directed behaviors. However, it remains unclear whether the incentive effects of social and material reward are supported by common or distinct neural circuits. Here, we have addressed this issue by quantitatively synthesizing and comparing neural signatures underlying social (21 contrasts, 207 foci, 696 subjects) and monetary (94 contrasts, 1083 foci, 2060 subjects) reward anticipation. We demonstrated that social and monetary reward anticipation engaged a common neural circuit consisting of the ventral tegmental area, ventral striatum, anterior insula, and supplementary motor area, which are intensively connected during both task and resting states. Functional decoding findings indicate that this generic neural pathway mediates positive value, motivational relevance, and action preparation during reward anticipation, which together motivate individuals to prepare well for the response to the upcoming target. Our findings support the common neural currency hypothesis by providing the first meta-analytic evidence to quantitatively show the common involvement of brain regions in both social and material reward anticipation.


Functional decoding; Meta-analysis; Meta-analytic connectivity modeling; Monetary incentive delay task; Resting-state functional connectivity; Reward anticipation; Social reward

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