Reward-related activity in ventral striatum is action contingent and modulated by behavioral relevance

Thomas H B FitzGerald, Philipp Schwartenbeck, Raymond J Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Multiple features of the environment are often imbued with motivational significance, and the relative importance of these can change across contexts. The ability to flexibly adjust evaluative processes so that currently important features of the environment alone drive behavior is critical to adaptive routines. We know relatively little about the neural mechanisms involved, including whether motivationally significant features are obligatorily evaluated or whether current relevance gates access to value-sensitive regions. We addressed these questions using functional magnetic resonance imaging data and a task design where human subjects had to choose whether to accept or reject an offer indicated by visual and auditory stimuli. By manipulating, on a trial-by-trial basis, which stimulus determined the value of the offer, we show choice activity in the ventral striatum solely reflects the value of the currently relevant stimulus, consistent with a model wherein behavioral relevance modulates the impact of sensory stimuli on value processing. Choice outcome signals in this same region covaried positively with wins on accept trials, and negatively with wins on reject trials, consistent with striatal activity at feedback reflecting correctness of response rather than reward processing per se. We conclude that ventral striatum activity during decision making is dynamically modulated by behavioral context, indexed here by task relevance and action selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-9
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Volume34
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Choice Behavior
  • Corpus Striatum
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Reward
  • Young Adult

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