Frontostriatal response to set switching is moderated by reward sensitivity

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The reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) relates individual differences in reward sensitivity to the activation of the behavioral approach system (BAS). Dopamine-related brain structures have been repeatedly associated with reward processing, but also with cognitive processes such as task switching. In the present study, we examined the association between reward sensitivity and the event-related fMRI BOLD response with set switching in 31 males. As expected, the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFG) and the striatum (i.e. the left putamen) were involved in set-switching activity for the overall sample. Interindividual differences in Gray's reward sensitivity were related to stronger activity in the rIFG and the ventral striatum. Thus, trait reward sensitivity contributed to the modulation of brain responsiveness in set-switching tasks. Having considered previous research, we propose that higher BAS activity is associated with a stronger reward to process a better implementation of goal-directed tasks and the diminished processing of secondary cues.

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