Functional imaging of neural responses to expectancy and experience of monetary gains and losses


Neural responses accompanying anticipation and experience of monetary gains and losses were monitored by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Trials comprised an initial "prospect" (expectancy) phase, when a set of three monetary amounts was displayed, and a subsequent outcome phase, when one of these amounts was awarded. Hemodynamic responses in the sublenticular extended amygdala (SLEA) and orbital gyrus tracked the expected values of the prospects, and responses to the highest value set of outcomes increased monotonically with monetary value in the nucleus accumbens, SLEA, and hypothalamus. Responses to prospects and outcomes were generally, but not always, seen in the same regions. The overlap of the observed activations with those seen previously in response to tactile stimuli, gustatory stimuli, and euphoria-inducing drugs is consistent with a contribution of common circuitry to the processing of diverse rewards.

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