Elliott, R., Newman, J. L., Longe, O. A., & Deakin, J. F. W. (2003). Differential response patterns in the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex to financial reward in humans: A parametric functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Journal of Neuroscience, 23(1), 303-307.
Responses to monetary reward in humans have been assessed in a number of recent functional imaging studies, and it is clear that the neuronal substrates of financial reinforcement overlap extensively with regions responding to primary reinforcers, such as food. Money has the practical advantage of being an objectively quantifiable reinforcer. In this study, we exploit this advantage using a parametric functional magnetic resonance imaging design to look at the patterns of responding to systematically varying reward values. Twelve healthy volunteers were scanned during performance of a rewarded target detection task, in which the reward value varied between task blocks. We observed three distinct patterns of responding in different regions. Amygdala, striatum, and dopaminergic midbrain responded to the presence of rewards, regardless of value. In contrast, premotor cortex showed a linear increase in response with increasing reward value. Finally, medial and lateral foci of orbitofrontal cortex responded nonlinearly, such that response was enhanced for the lowest and highest reward values relative to the midrange. These results suggest functional distinction in response patterns within a distributed reward system.