Activation of the human brain by monetary reward

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WITH the purpose of studying neural activation associated with reward processing in humans, we measured regional cerebral blood flow in 10 right-handed healthy subjects performing a delayed go–no go task in two different reinforcement conditions. Correct responses were either rewarded by money or a simple ‘ok’ reinforcer. Behaviour rewarded by money, as compared with the ‘ok’ reinforcement, was most significantly associated with activation of dorsolateral and orbital frontal cortex and also involved the midbrain and thalamus. These results may reflect the processing of reward information, although arousal effects cannot be completely excluded. It is suggested that the observed foci are implicated in the assessment of consequences in goal-directed behaviour which agrees with research in non-human primates.

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