Article

Neural processing of reward magnitude under varying attentional demands.

Department of Neurology and Centre for Advanced Imaging, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.
Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.83). 02/2011; 1383:218-29. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2011.01.095
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Central to the organization of behavior is the ability to represent the magnitude of a prospective reward and the costs related to obtaining it. Therein, reward-related neural activations are discounted in dependence of the effort required to resolve a given task. Varying attentional demands of the task might however affect reward-related neural activations. Here we employed fMRI to investigate the neural representation of expected values during a monetary incentive delay task with varying attentional demands. Following a cue, indicating at the same time the difficulty (hard/easy) and the reward magnitude (high/low) of the upcoming trial, subjects performed an attention task and subsequently received feedback about their monetary reward. Consistent with previous results, activity in anterior-cingulate, insular/orbitofrontal and mesolimbic regions co-varied with the anticipated reward-magnitude, but also with the attentional requirements of the task. These activations occurred contingent on action-execution and resembled the response time pattern of the subjects. In contrast, cue-related activations, signaling the forthcoming task-requirements, were only observed within attentional control structures. These results suggest that anticipated reward-magnitude and task-related attentional demands are concurrently processed in partially overlapping neural networks of anterior-cingulate, insular/orbitofrontal, and mesolimbic regions.

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