Preliminary evidence that digit length ratio (2D:4D) predicts neural response to delivery of motivational stimuli.
ABSTRACT: Reduced relative length of the 2nd to 4th digits (2D:4D) is thought to partially reflect fetal testosterone (FT) exposure, a process suspected to promote relatively permanent effects on the brain and behavior via structural and functional neuroadaptations. We examined the effect of 2D:4D on neural response - assessed by P2a and feedback-related negativity (FRN) event-related potentials (ERPs) - to motivational stimuli (reward or punishment) using two counterbalanced conditions of a passive S1/S2 outcome prediction design. P2a to expected and unexpected delivered rewards or punishments ($1 or white noise burst, respectively) and FRN to withheld rewards or punishments ($0 or silence, respectively) were observed in undergraduates. Lower left 2D:4D and greater 2D:4DR-L predicted amplified P2a to the delivery (but not FRN to the omission) of motivationally salient stimuli, regardless of valence and probability. These preliminary findings suggest that FT may organize dopamine neurons to respond more strongly to the delivery of motivational stimuli.
Project description:Basal amygdala (BA) neurons guide associative learning via acquisition of responses to stimuli that predict salient appetitive or aversive outcomes. We examined the learning- and state-dependent dynamics of BA neurons and ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine (DA) axons that innervate BA (VTADA?BA) using two-photon imaging and photometry in behaving mice. BA neurons did not respond to arbitrary visual stimuli, but acquired responses to stimuli that predicted either rewards or punishments. Most VTADA?BA axons were activated by both rewards and punishments, and they acquired responses to cues predicting these outcomes during learning. Responses to cues predicting food rewards in VTADA?BA axons and BA neurons in hungry mice were strongly attenuated following satiation, while responses to cues predicting unavoidable punishments persisted or increased. Therefore, VTADA?BA axons may provide a reinforcement signal of motivational salience that invigorates adaptive behaviors by promoting learned responses to appetitive or aversive cues in distinct, intermingled sets of BA excitatory neurons.
Project description:The capacity of humans and other animals to provide appropriate responses to stimuli anticipating motivationally significant events is exemplified by instrumental conditioning. Interestingly, in humans instrumental conditioning can occur also for subliminal outcome-predicting stimuli. However, it remains unclear whether attention is necessary for subliminal instrumental conditioning to take place. In two experiments, human participants had to learn to collect rewards (monetary gains) while avoiding punishments (monetary losses), on the basis of subliminal outcome-predicting cues. We found that instrumental conditioning can proceed subconsciously only if spatial attention is aligned with the subliminal cue. Conversely, if spatial attention is briefly diverted from the subliminal cue, then instrumental conditioning is blocked. In humans, attention but not awareness is therefore mandatory for instrumental conditioning, thus revealing a dissociation between awareness and attention in the control of motivated behavior.
Project description:Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are associated with different clinical profiles of disturbances in motivation, yet few studies have compared the neurophysiological correlates of such disturbances. Outpatients with schizophrenia (n = 34), or bipolar disorder I (n = 33), and healthy controls (n = 31) completed a task in which the late positive potential (LPP), an index of motivated attention, was assessed along motivational gradients determined by apparent distance from potential rewards or punishments. Sequences of cues signaling possible monetary gains or losses appeared to loom progressively closer to the viewer; a reaction time (RT) task after the final cue determined the outcome. Controls showed the expected pattern with LPPs for appetitive and aversive cues that were initially elevated, smaller during intermediate positions, and escalated just prior to the RT task. The clinical groups showed different patterns in the final positions just prior to the RT task: the bipolar group's LPPs to both types of cues peaked relatively early during looming sequences and subsequently decreased, whereas the schizophrenia group showed relatively small LPP escalations, particularly for aversive cues. These distinct patterns suggest that the temporal unfolding of attentional resource allocation for motivationally significant events may qualitatively differ between these disorders. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:Individuals at risk for schizophrenia-spectrum disorders display abnormalities related to motivational salience, or the ability of stimuli to elicit attention due to associations with rewards or punishments. However, the nature of these abnormalities is unclear because most focus on responses to stimuli from broad "pleasant" and "unpleasant" categories and ignore the variation of motivational salience within these categories. In two groups at risk for schizophrenia-spectrum disorders-a Social Anhedonia group and a Psychotic-like Experiences group-and a control group, the current study examined event-related potential components sensitive to motivational salience-the Early Posterior Negativity (EPN), reflecting earlier selective attention, and the Late Positive Potential (LPP), reflecting sustained attention. Compared to controls, the Social Anhedonia group showed smaller increases in the EPN in response to erotica and smaller increases in the LPP as the motivational salience of pleasant images increased (exciting<affiliative<erotica). In contrast, the Psychotic-like Experiences group had larger increases in LPP amplitudes as the motivational salience of pleasant images increased. Also, both at-risk groups showed larger increases in the LPP to threatening images but smaller increases to mutilation images. These findings suggest that examining abnormalities beyond those associated with broad categories may be a way to identify mechanisms of dysfunction.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Inflammation rapidly impairs mood and cognition and, when severe, can appear indistinguishable from major depression. These sickness responses are characterized by an acute reorientation of motivational state; pleasurable activities are avoided, and sensitivity to negative stimuli is enhanced. However, it remains unclear how these rapid shifts in behavior are mediated within the brain.<h4>Methods</h4>Here, we combined computational modeling of choice behavior, experimentally induced inflammation, and functional brain imaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to describe these mechanisms. Using a double-blind, randomized crossover study design, 24 healthy volunteers completed a probabilistic instrumental learning task on two separate occasions, one 3 hours after typhoid vaccination and one 3 hours after saline (placebo) injection. Participants learned to select high probability reward (win £1) and avoid high probability punishment (lose £1) stimuli. An action-value learning algorithm was fit to the observed behavior, then used within functional magnetic resonance imaging analyses to identify neural coding of prediction error signals driving motivational learning.<h4>Results</h4>Inflammation acutely biased behavior, enhancing punishment compared with reward sensitivity, through distinct actions on neural representations of reward and punishment prediction errors within the ventral striatum and anterior insula. Consequently, choice options leading to potential rewards were less behaviorally attractive, and those leading to punishments were more aversive.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Our findings demonstrate the neural mediation of a rapid, state-dependent reorientation of reward versus punishment sensitivity during inflammation. This mechanism may aid the adaptive reallocation of metabolic resources during acute sickness but might also account for maladaptive, motivational changes that underpin the association between chronic inflammation and depression.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Mania is characterised by increased impulsivity and risk-taking, and psychological accounts argue that these features may be due to hypersensitivity to reward. The neurobiological mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we examine reinforcement learning and sensitivity to both reward and punishment outcomes in hypomania-prone individuals not receiving pharmacotherapy.<h4>Method</h4>We recorded EEG from 45 healthy individuals split into three groups by low, intermediate and high self-reported hypomanic traits. Participants played a computerised card game in which they learned the reward contingencies of three cues. Neural responses to monetary gain and loss were measured using the feedback-related negativity (FRN), a component implicated in motivational outcome evaluation and reinforcement learning.<h4>Results</h4>As predicted, rewards elicited a smaller FRN in the hypomania-prone group relative to the low hypomania group, indicative of greater reward responsiveness. The hypomania-prone group also showed smaller FRN to losses, indicating diminished response to negative feedback.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our findings indicate that proneness to hypomania is associated with both reward hypersensitivity and discounting of punishment. This positive evaluation bias may be driven by aberrant reinforcement learning signals, which fail to update future expectations. This provides a possible neural mechanism explaining risk-taking and impaired reinforcement learning in BD. Further research will be needed to explore the potential value of the FRN as a biological vulnerability marker for mania and pathological risk-taking.
Project description:In everyday life, children often need to engage control in emotionally or motivationally relevant contexts. This study disentangled and directly compared the respective influences of external rewards and positive stimuli on childhood cognitive control. We expected external rewards to promote proactive cognitive control and positive stimuli to impair proactive control, especially in younger age. EEG data were recorded while children (5–6 years old and 9–10 years old) and adults completed a cued task-switching paradigm in three conditions: positive-stimulus, external-reward and control conditions. Provision of reward resulted in more accurate but slower responses, and more pronounced cue-locked posterior positivity, potentially suggesting general proactive mobilisation of attention (i.e., readiness). Despite no effects on behaviour, the presentation of positive stimuli was unexpectedly associated with a greater cue-locked extended slow-wave when task cues were presented ahead of targets (i.e. proactive-control possible) in younger children, suggesting greater proactive cue preparation. In contrast to our hypothesis, both external rewards and positive stimuli seem to promote different types of proactive approaches in children.
Project description:Several studies have suggested that females and males differ in reward behaviors and their underlying neural circuitry. Whether human sex differences extend across neural and behavioral levels for both rewards and punishments remains unclear. We studied a community sample of 221 young women and men who performed a monetary incentive task known to engage the mesoaccumbal pathway and salience network. Both stimulus salience (behavioral relevance) and valence (win vs loss) varied during the task. In response to high- vs low-salience stimuli presented during the monetary incentive task, men showed greater subjective arousal ratings, behavioral accuracy and skin conductance responses (P <?0.006, Hedges' effect size g =?0.38 to 0.46). In a subsample studied with functional magnetic resonance imaging (n =?44), men exhibited greater responsiveness to stimulus salience in the nucleus accumbens, midbrain, anterior insula and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (P <?0.02, g =?0.86 to 1.7). Behavioral, autonomic and neural sensitivity to the valence of stimuli did not differ by sex, indicating that responses to rewards vs punishments were similar in women and men. These results reveal novel and robust sex differences in reward- and punishment-related traits, behavior, autonomic activity and neural responses. These convergent results suggest a neurobehavioral basis for sexual dimorphism observed in the reward system, including reward-related disorders.
Project description:Both reward- and punishment-related stimuli are motivationally salient and attract the attention of animals. However, it remains unclear how motivational salience is processed in the brain. Here, we show that both reward- and punishment-predicting stimuli elicited robust bursting of many noncholinergic basal forebrain (BF) neurons in behaving rats. The same BF neurons also responded with similar bursting to primary reinforcement of both valences. Reinforcement responses were modulated by expectation, with surprising reinforcement eliciting stronger BF bursting. We further demonstrate that BF burst firing predicted successful detection of near-threshold stimuli. Together, our results point to the existence of a salience-encoding system independent of stimulus valence. We propose that the encoding of motivational salience by ensemble bursting of noncholinergic BF neurons may improve behavioral performance by affecting the activity of widespread cortical circuits and therefore represents a novel candidate mechanism for top-down attention.