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Reward sensitivity modulates connectivity among reward brain areas during processing of anticipatory reward cues

Authors

  • Victor Costumero,

    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
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    • V.C. and A.B.-L. contributed equally to this work.
  • Alfonso Barrós-Loscertales,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
    • Correspondence: Alfonso Barrós-Loscertales, as above.

      E-mail: barros@uji.es

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    • V.C. and A.B.-L. contributed equally to this work.
  • Juan C. Bustamante,

    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
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  • Noelia Ventura-Campos,

    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
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  • Paola Fuentes,

    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
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  • César Ávila

    1. Departamento de Psicología Básica, Clínica y Psicobiologia, Facultad de ciencias humanas y sociales, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain
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Abstract

Reward sensitivity, or the tendency to engage in motivated approach behavior in the presence of rewarding stimuli, may be a contributory factor for vulnerability to disinhibitory behaviors. Although evidence exists for a reward sensitivity-related increased response in reward brain areas (i.e. nucleus accumbens or midbrain) during the processing of reward cues, it is unknown how this trait modulates brain connectivity, specifically the crucial coupling between the nucleus accumbens, the midbrain, and other reward-related brain areas, including the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala. Here, we analysed the relationship between effective connectivity and personality in response to anticipatory reward cues. Forty-four males performed an adaptation of the Monetary Incentive Delay Task and completed the Sensitivity to Reward scale. The results showed the modulation of reward sensitivity on both activity and functional connectivity (psychophysiological interaction) during the processing of incentive cues. Sensitivity to reward scores related to stronger activation in the nucleus accumbens and midbrain during the processing of reward cues. Psychophysiological interaction analyses revealed that midbrain–medial orbitofrontal cortex connectivity was negatively correlated with sensitivity to reward scores for high as compared with low incentive cues. Also, nucleus accumbens–amygdala connectivity correlated negatively with sensitivity to reward scores during reward anticipation. Our results suggest that high reward sensitivity-related activation in reward brain areas may result from associated modulatory effects of other brain regions within the reward circuitry.

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