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Neuropsychologia. 1997 Oct;35(10):1395-404.

Differential neural response to positive and negative feedback in planning and guessing tasks.

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Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, Institute of Neurology, London, U.K.


The neural mechanisms by which emotional and cognitive processing interact are unknown. Evidence from animal studies and neurological patients suggests that regions of the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex, together with limbic structures such as the amygdala, are critical to such interactions. We used positron emission tomography to study the neural systems engaged by processing performance feedback under two conditions involving either a complex cognitive or a matched guessing task. The main activations associated with the processing of performance feedback under different task conditions involved foci in the medial caudate nucleus and the ventromedial orbitofrontal cortex. A differential modulation of these activations as a function of task type was observed. In particular the orbitofrontal activation associated with the presence of feedback was only seen in the guessing task. These data suggest that the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex are involved in processing of feedback information, findings consistent with animal and neurological studies. We propose that differential activation associated with guessing compared to planning suggests enhanced neural processing of feedback when the outcome of a task is uncontrollable or when information must be assimilated across a number of trials to assess performance.

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