Added value of money on motor performance feedback: Increased left central beta-band power for rewards and fronto-central theta-band power for punishments

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Monetary rewards and punishments have been shown to respectively enhance retention of motor memories and short-term motor performance, but their underlying neural bases in the context of motor control tasks remain unclear. Using electroencephalography (EEG), the present study tested the hypothesis that monetary rewards and punishments are respectively reflected in post-feedback beta-band (20–30 Hz) and theta-band (3–8 Hz) oscillatory power. While participants performed upper limb reaching movements toward visual targets using their right hand, the delivery of monetary rewards and punishments was manipulated as well as their probability (i.e., by changing target size). Compared to unrewarded and unpunished trials, monetary rewards and the successful avoidance of punishments both entailed greater beta-band power at left central electrodes overlaying contralateral motor areas. In contrast, monetary punishments and reward omissions both entailed increased theta-band power at fronto-central scalp sites. Additional analyses revealed that beta-band power was further increased when rewards were lowly probable. In light of previous work demonstrating similar beta-band modulations in basal ganglia during reward processing, the present results may reflect functional communication of reward-related information between the basal ganglia and motor cortical regions. In turn, the increase in fronto-central theta-band power after monetary punishments may reflect an emphasized cognitive need for behavioral adjustments. Globally, the present work identifies possible neural substrates for the growing behavioral evidence showing beneficial effects of monetary feedback on motor learning and performance.HighlightsBeta- and theta-band power encodes rewards and punishments in a motor task.Monetary feedback entails greater oscillatory power than performance feedback alone.Successful punishment avoidance entails similar beta-band power as rewards.Beta-band power is greater after lowly probable than highly probable target hits.Reward omissions entail similar fronto-central theta-band power as punishments.

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