The bivalent side of the nucleus accumbens

Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Institute of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 11/2008; 44(3):1178-87. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.09.039
Source: PubMed


An increasing body of evidence suggests that the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) is engaged in both incentive reward processes and in adaptive responses to conditioned and unconditioned aversive stimuli. Yet, it has been argued that NAcc activation to aversive stimuli may be a consequence of the rewarding effects of their termination, i.e., relief. To address this question we used fMRI to delineate brain response to the onset and offset of unpleasant and pleasant auditory stimuli in the absence of learning or motor response. Increased NAcc activity was seen for the onset of both pleasant and unpleasant stimuli. Our results support the expanded bivalent view of NAcc function and call for expansion of current models of NAcc function that are solely focused on reward.

Download full-text


Available from: Liat Levita,
  • Source
    • "The NAcc has long been associated with anticipation of rewarding events (Bartra et al., 2013), and this may reflect a diminution of reward expectation in the anxious group. However, other functions have also been attributed to this region including learning (Schultz, 2007) and aversive anticipation (Levita et al., 2009; Choi et al., 2014). This makes the functional significance of diminished NAcc activation in this context difficult to pinpoint. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is the time of peak onset for many anxiety disorders, particularly Social Anxiety Disorder. Research using simulated social interactions consistently finds differential activation in several brain regions in anxious (vs. non-anxious) youth, including amygdala, striatum, and medial prefrontal cortex. However, few studies examined the anticipation of peer interactions, a key component in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Youth completed the Chatroom Task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Patterns of neural activation were assessed in anxious and non-anxious youth as they were cued to anticipate social feedback from peers. Anxious participants evidenced greater amygdala activation and rostral anterior cingulate (rACC)↔amygdala coupling than non-anxious participants during anticipation of feedback from peers they had previously rejected; anxious participants also evidenced less nucleus accumbens activation during anticipation of feedback from selected peers. Finally, anxiety interacted with age in rACC: in anxious participants, age was positively associated with activation to anticipated feedback from rejected peers and negatively for selected peers, whereas the opposite pattern emerged for non-anxious youth. Overall, anxious youth showed greater reactivity in anticipation of feedback from rejected peers, and thus may ascribe greater salience to these potential interactions and increase the likelihood of avoidance behavior. © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email:
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12/2014; 10(8). DOI:10.1093/scan/nsu165 · 7.37 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Participants were seated approximately 60 cm away from the computer monitor used to run the experimental task. A loud aversive sound was used as the US, and consisted of white noise combined with a 1000 Hz tone, which has been shown in previous studies to be aversive (Levita et al., 2009; Soliman et al., 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The reinforcing effects of aversive outcomes on avoidance behaviour are well established. However, their influence on perceptual processes are less well explored, especially during the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Using EEG, we examined whether learning to actively or passively avoid harm can modulate early visual responses in adolescents and adults. The task included two avoidance conditions, active and passive, where two different warning stimuli predicted the imminent, but avoidable, presentation of an aversive tone. To avoid the aversive outcome, participants had to learn to emit an action (active avoidance) for one of the warning stimuli, and omit an action for the other (passive avoidance). Both adults and adolescents performed the task with a high degree of accuracy. For both adolescents and adults, increased N170 ERP amplitudes were found for both the active and passive warning stimuli compared to control conditions. Moreover, the potentiation of the N170 to the warning stimuli was stable and long lasting. Developmental differences were also observed; adolescents showed greater potentiation of the N170 component to danger signals. These findings demonstrate, for the first time, that learned danger signals in an instrumental avoidance task can influence early visual sensory processes in both adults and adolescents.
    Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 03/2014; 10(2). DOI:10.1093/scan/nsu048 · 7.37 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "The VS also plays a role in the detection of non-rewarding deviant and salient stimuli [7], [29]–[32]. However, the resulting alternative interpretation of the VS activity, i.e. that it may be related to the salience of the relatively few high confidence items in the overall low confidence context, seems unlikely given that the pleasantness ratings of the subjects parallel striatal activity. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Activity in the ventral striatum has frequently been associated with retrieval success, i.e., it is higher for hits than correct rejections. Based on the prominent role of the ventral striatum in the reward circuit, its activity has been interpreted to reflect the higher subjective value of hits compared to correct rejections in standard recognition tests. This hypothesis was supported by a recent study showing that ventral striatal activity is higher for correct rejections than hits when the value of rejections is increased by external incentives. These findings imply that the striatal response during recognition is context-sensitive and modulated by the adaptive significance of "oldness" or "newness" to the current goals. The present study is based on the idea that not only external incentives, but also other deviations from standard recognition tests which affect the subjective value of specific response types should modulate striatal activity. Therefore, we explored ventral striatal activity in an unusually difficult recognition test that was characterized by low levels of confidence and accuracy. Based on the human uncertainty aversion, in such a recognition context, the subjective value of all high confident decisions is expected to be higher than usual, i.e., also rejecting items with high certainty is deemed rewarding. In an accompanying behavioural experiment, participants rated the pleasantness of each recognition response. As hypothesized, ventral striatal activity correlated in the current unusually difficult recognition test not only with retrieval success, but also with confidence. Moreover, participants indicated that they were more satisfied by higher confidence in addition to perceived oldness of an item. Taken together, the results are in line with the hypothesis that ventral striatal activity during recognition codes the subjective value of different response types that is modulated by the context of the recognition test.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(3):e54324. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0054324 · 3.23 Impact Factor
Show more