Distinct portions of anterior cingulate cortex and medial prefrontal cortex are activated by reward processing in separable phases of decision-making cognition.
Rogers RD., Ramnani N., Mackay C., Wilson JL., Jezzard P., Carter CS., Smith SM.
BACKGROUND: Choosing between actions associated with uncertain rewards and punishments is mediated by neural circuitry encompassing the orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and striatum; however, the precise conditions under which these different components are activated during decision-making cognition remain uncertain. METHODS: Fourteen healthy volunteers completed an event-based functional magnetic resonance imaging protocol to investigate blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) responses during independently modeled phases of choice cognition. In the "decision phase," participants decided which of two simultaneous visually presented gambles they wished to play for monetary reward. The gambles differed in their magnitude of gains, magnitude of losses, and the probabilities with which these outcomes were delivered. In the "outcome phase," the result of each choice was indicated on the visual display. RESULTS: In the decision phase, choices involving large gains were associated with increased BOLD responses in the pregenual ACC, paracingulate, and right posterior orbitolateral cortex compared with choices involving small gains. In the outcome phase, good outcomes were associated with increased BOLD responses in the posterior orbitomedial cortex, subcallosal ACC, and ventral striatum compared with negative outcomes. There was only limited overlap between reward-related activity in ACC and orbitofrontal cortex during the decision and outcome phases. CONCLUSIONS: Neural activity within the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, pregenual ACC, and striatum mediate distinct representations of reward-related information that are deployed at different stages during a decision-making episode.