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Neural activity related to the processing of increasing monetary reward in smokers and nonsmokers

Authors


: Dr Chantal Martin-Soelch, as above.
E-mail: Chantal.Martin@unibas.ch

Abstract

This study investigated the processing of increasing monetary reward in nonsmoking and smoking subjects. The choice of the subject populations has been motivated by the observation of differences between nonsmokers and smokers in response to rewarding stimuli in a previous study. Subjects performed a pattern recognition task with delayed response, while rCBF was measured with [\mathrm{H}^{15}_{2}O] PET. Correct responses to the task were reinforced with three different amounts of monetary reward. The subjects received the sum of the rewards at the end of the experiment. The results show that a cortico-subcortical loop, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the cingulate gyrus and the thalamus is involved in processing increasing monetary reward. Furthermore, the striatal response differentiates nonsmokers from smokers. Thus, we found significant correlations between rCBF increases in striatum and increasing monetary reward and between striatal rCBF increases and mood in nonsmokers, but not in smokers. Moreover, no significant mood changes among the different monetary rewards could be observed in smokers. We infer that the response of the striatum to reward is related to changes in subjective feelings. The differences between smokers and nonsmokers confirm our previous conclusions that the association between blood flow, performance, mood and amount of reward is more direct in nonsmokers.

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