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.

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    • "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. "
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    • "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). "
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    • "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. "
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