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Author: Brian Knutson (82)


Jan
2018

Reward hypersensitization is a common feature of neuropsychiatric disorders, manifesting as impulsivity for anticipated incentives. Temporally specific changes in activity within the nucleus accumbens (NAc), which occur during anticipatory periods preceding consummatory behavior, represent a critical opportunity for intervention. However, no available therapy is capable of automatically sensing and therapeutically responding to this vulnerable moment in time when anticipation-related neural signals may be present.

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Jan
2018

Anticipatory anxiety and harm avoidance are essential features of panic disorder (PD) and may involve deficits in the reward system of the brain, in particular in the ventral striatum. While neuroimaging studies on PD have focused on fearful and negative affective stimulus processing, no investigations have directly addressed deficits in reward and loss anticipation. To determine whether the ventral striatum shows abnormal neural activity in PD patients during anticipation of loss or gain, an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment using a monetary incentive delay task was employed in 10 patients with PD and 10 healthy controls.

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Dec
2017

Older adults are disproportionately targeted by fraud schemes that advertise unlikely but large returns (positively skewed risks). We examined adult age differences in choice and neural activity as individuals considered risky gambles. Gambles were symmetric (50% chance of modest win or loss), positively skewed (25% chance of large gain), or negatively skewed (25% chance of large loss).

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Sep
2017

Although traditional economic and psychological theories imply that individual choice best scales to aggregate choice, primary components of choice reflected in neural activity may support even more generalizable forecasts. Crowdfunding represents a significant and growing platform for funding new and unique projects, causes, and products. To test whether neural activity could forecast market-level crowdfunding outcomes weeks later, 30 human subjects (14 female) decided whether to fund proposed projects described on an Internet crowdfunding website while undergoing scanning with functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Jul
2017

Why do people give to strangers? We propose that people trust and give more to those whose emotional expressions match how they ideally want to feel ("ideal affect match"). European Americans and Koreans played multiple trials of the Dictator Game with recipients who varied in emotional expression (excited, calm), race (White, Asian) and sex (male, female). Consistent with their culture's valued affect, European Americans trusted and gave more to excited than calm recipients, whereas Koreans trusted and gave more to calm than excited recipients.

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Feb
2017

Novelty-seeking tendencies in adolescents may promote innovation as well as problematic impulsive behaviour, including drug abuse. Previous research has not clarified whether neural hyper- or hypo-responsiveness to anticipated rewards promotes vulnerability in these individuals. Here we use a longitudinal design to track 144 novelty-seeking adolescents at age 14 and 16 to determine whether neural activity in response to anticipated rewards predicts problematic drug use.

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Mar
2016

A marked bias towards risk aversion has been observed in nearly every species tested. A minority of individuals, however, instead seem to prefer risk (repeatedly choosing uncertain large rewards over certain but smaller rewards), and even risk-averse individuals sometimes opt for riskier alternatives. It is not known how neural activity underlies such important shifts in decision-making--either as a stable trait across individuals or at the level of variability within individuals.

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Jun
2016

Despite an emerging link between alterations in motivated behavior and a lack of sleep, the impact of sleep deprivation on human brain mechanisms of reward and punishment remain largely unknown, as does the role of trait dopamine activity in modulating such effects in the mesolimbic system. Combining fMRI with an established incentive paradigm and individual genotyping, here, we test the hypothesis that trait differences in the human dopamine transporter (DAT) gene-associated with altered synaptic dopamine signalling-govern the impact of sleep deprivation on neural sensitivity to impending monetary gains and losses. Consistent with this framework, markedly different striatal reward responses were observed following sleep loss depending on the DAT functional polymorphisms.

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Jan
2016

Individuals sometimes show inconsistent risk preferences, including excessive attraction to gambles featuring small chances of winning large amounts (called "positively skewed" gambles). While functional neuroimaging research indicates that nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and anterior insula (AIns) activity inversely predict risky choice, structural connections between these regions have not been described in humans. By combining diffusion-weighted MRI with tractography, we identified the anatomical trajectory of white-matter tracts projecting from the AIns to the NAcc and statistically validated these tracts using Linear Fascicle Evaluation (LiFE) and virtual lesions.

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Jan
2016

Motivation for reward drives adaptive behaviors, whereas impairment of reward perception and experience (anhedonia) can contribute to psychiatric diseases, including depression and schizophrenia. We sought to test the hypothesis that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) controls interactions among specific subcortical regions that govern hedonic responses. By using optogenetic functional magnetic resonance imaging to locally manipulate but globally visualize neural activity in rats, we found that dopamine neuron stimulation drives striatal activity, whereas locally increased mPFC excitability reduces this striatal response and inhibits the behavioral drive for dopaminergic stimulation.

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Feb
2016

European Americans value excitement more and calm less than Chinese. Within cultures, European Americans value excited and calm states similarly, whereas Chinese value calm more than excited states. To examine how these cultural differences influence people's immediate responses to excited vs calm facial expressions, we combined a facial rating task with functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Nov
2015

Neural valuation of environmental resources.

Neuroimage 2015 Nov 8;122:87-95. Epub 2015 Aug 8.
Nik Sawe, Brian Knutson
How do people value environmental resources? To estimate public valuation of natural resources, researchers often conduct surveys that ask people how much they would be willing to pay to preserve or restore threatened natural resources. However, these survey responses often elicit complex affective responses, including negative reactions toward proposed destructive land uses of those resources. To better characterize processes that underlie the valuation of environmental resources, we conducted behavioral and neuroimaging experiments in which subjects chose whether or not to donate money to protect natural park lands (iconic versus non-iconic) from proposed land uses (destructive versus non-destructive).

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Sep
2015

Humans sometimes share with others whom they may never meet or know, in violation of the dictates of pure self-interest. Research has not established which neuropsychological mechanisms support lending decisions, nor whether their influence extends to markets involving significant financial incentives. In two studies, we found that neural affective mechanisms influence the success of requests for microloans.

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May
2015

As the global population ages, older decision makers will be required to take greater responsibility for their own physical, psychological and financial well-being. With this in mind, researchers have begun to examine the effects of ageing on decision making and associated neural circuits. A new 'affect-integration-motivation' (AIM) framework may help to clarify how affective and motivational circuits support decision making.

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Jun
2014

Emerging evidence from decision neuroscience suggests that although younger and older adults show similar frontostriatal representations of reward magnitude, older adults often show deficits in feedback-driven reinforcement learning. In the present study, healthy adults completed reward-based tasks that did or did not depend on probabilistic learning, while undergoing functional neuroimaging. We observed reductions in the frontostriatal representation of prediction errors during probabilistic learning in older adults.

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Aug
2014

Inferring affect from fMRI data.

Trends Cogn Sci 2014 Aug 13;18(8):422-8. Epub 2014 May 13.
Brian Knutson, Kiefer Katovich, Gaurav Suri
Neuroimaging findings are often interpreted in terms of affective experience, but researchers disagree about the advisability or even possibility of such inferences, and few frameworks explicitly link these levels of analysis. Here, we suggest that the spatial and temporal resolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data could support inferences about affective states. Specifically, we propose that fMRI nucleus accumbens (NAcc) activity is associated with positive arousal, whereas a combination of anterior insula activity and NAcc activity is associated with negative arousal.

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Aug
2014

The nucleus accumbens (NAcc) plays critical roles in healthy motivation and learning, as well as in psychiatric disorders (including schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Thus, techniques that confer control of NAcc activity might inspire new therapeutic interventions. By providing second-to-second temporal resolution of activity in small subcortical regions, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can resolve online changes in NAcc activity, which can then be presented as "neurofeedback.

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May
2014

Neural activity in the striatum has consistently been shown to scale with the value of anticipated rewards. As a result, it is common across a number of neuroscientific subdiscliplines to associate activation in the striatum with anticipation of a rewarding outcome or a positive emotional state. However, most studies have failed to dissociate expected value from the motivation associated with seeking a reward.

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Oct
2013

The "identifiable victim effect" refers to peoples' tendency to preferentially give to identified versus anonymous victims of misfortune, and has been proposed to partly depend on affect. By soliciting charitable donations from human subjects during behavioral and neural (i.e.

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Jan
2014

While theorists have speculated that different affective traits are linked to reliable brain activity during anticipation of gains and losses, few have directly tested this prediction. We examined these associations in a community sample of healthy human adults (n=52) as they played a Monetary Incentive Delay task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). Factor analysis of personality measures revealed that subjects independently varied in trait Positive Arousal and trait Negative Arousal.

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Dec
1969

Adolescence is associated with a dramatic increase in risky and impulsive behaviors that have been attributed to developmental differences in neural processing of rewards. In the present study, we sought to identify age differences in anticipation of absolute and relative rewards. To do so, we modified a commonly used monetary incentive delay (MID) task in order to examine brain activity to relative anticipated reward value (neural sensitivity to the value of a reward as a function of other available rewards).

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Dec
1969

Life financial outcomes carry a significant heritable component, but the mechanisms by which genes influence financial choices remain unclear. Focusing on a polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR), we found that individuals possessing the short allele of this gene invested less in equities, were less engaged in actively making investment decisions, and had fewer credit lines. Short allele carriers also showed higher levels of the personality trait neuroticism, despite not differing from others with respect to cognitive skills, education, or wealth.

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May
2013

Multivariate machine learning methods are increasingly used to analyze neuroimaging data, often replacing more traditional "mass univariate" techniques that fit data one voxel at a time. In the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) literature, this has led to broad application of "off-the-shelf" classification and regression methods. These generic approaches allow investigators to use ready-made algorithms to accurately decode perceptual, cognitive, or behavioral states from distributed patterns of neural activity.

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Dec
1969

To explain human financial risk taking, economic, and finance theories typically refer to the mathematical properties of financial options, whereas psychological theories have emphasized the influence of emotion and cognition on choice. From a neuroscience perspective, choice emanates from a dynamic multicomponential process. Recent technological advances in neuroimaging have made it possible for researchers to separately visualize perceptual input, intermediate processing, and motor output.

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Feb
2013

Neuroimaging methods with enhanced spatial resolution such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) suggest that the subcortical striatum plays a critical role in human reward processing. Analysis of FMRI data requires several preprocessing steps, some of which entail tradeoffs. For instance, while spatial smoothing can enhance statistical power, it may also bias localization towards regions that contain more gray than white matter.

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Dec
1969

Early dysfunction of the brain reward system in schizophrenia might be already recognized in the prodromal phase of this illness. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the blood oxygen level-dependent response in the ventral striatum (VS) of subjects with ultra-high risk for psychosis during the presentation of reward-indicating and loss-indicating stimuli.
Thirteen prodromal patients (mean age: 25.

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Apr
2012

Frontostriatal circuits have been implicated in reward learning, and emerging findings suggest that frontal white matter structural integrity and probabilistic reward learning are reduced in older age. This cross-sectional study examined whether age differences in frontostriatal white matter integrity could account for age differences in reward learning in a community life span sample of human adults. By combining diffusion tensor imaging with a probabilistic reward learning task, we found that older age was associated with decreased reward learning and decreased white matter integrity in specific pathways running from the thalamus to the medial prefrontal cortex and from the medial prefrontal cortex to the ventral striatum.

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Dec
1969

This study sought to determine whether playing a "serious" interactive digital game (IDG)--the Re-Mission videogame for cancer patients--activates mesolimbic neural circuits associated with incentive motivation, and if so, whether such effects stem from the participatory aspects of interactive gameplay, or from the complex sensory/perceptual engagement generated by its dynamic event-stream. Healthy undergraduates were randomized to groups in which they were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) as they either actively played Re-Mission or as they passively observed a gameplay audio-visual stream generated by a yoked active group subject. Onset of interactive game play robustly activated mesolimbic projection regions including the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens, as well as a subregion of the parahippocampal gyrus.

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May
2012

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) involves deficits in the reward system. While neuroimaging studies have focused on affective stimulus processing, few investigations have directly addressed deficits in the anticipation of incentives. We examined neural responses during gain and loss anticipation in patients with MDD before and after treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

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Dec
1969

Emerging findings imply that distinct neurobehavioral systems process gains and losses. This study investigated whether individual differences in gain learning and loss learning might contribute to different life financial outcomes (i.e.

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Feb
2011

Few finance theories consider the influence of "skewness" (or large and asymmetric but unlikely outcomes) on financial choice. We investigated the impact of skewed gambles on subjects' neural activity, self-reported affective responses, and subsequent preferences using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). Neurally, skewed gambles elicited more anterior insula activation than symmetric gambles equated for expected value and variance, and positively skewed gambles also specifically elicited more nucleus accumbens (NAcc) activation than negatively skewed gambles.

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Jun
2011

Dysfunctional reward processing has been proposed as a main deficit in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which could be modulated by treatment with methylphenidate (MPH).
We examined differences in reward processing in adulthood (independent of actual ADHD) depending on MPH treatment during childhood.
Eleven males with childhood ADHD treated with MPH, 12 drug-naïve males with childhood ADHD, and 12 controls matched by age, handedness, and smoking behavior were studied drug-free using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Aug
2010

In social decision-making, people care both about others' outcomes and their intentions to help or harm. How the brain integrates representations of others' intentions with their outcomes, however, is unknown. In this study, participants inferred others' decisions in an economic game during functional magnetic resonance imaging.

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Apr
2011

When making decisions, individuals must often compensate for cognitive limitations, particularly in the face of advanced age. Recent findings suggest that age-related variability in striatal activity may increase financial risk-taking mistakes in older adults. In two studies, we sought to further characterize neural contributions to optimal financial risk taking and to determine whether decision aids could improve financial risk taking.

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Jan
2010

As human life expectancy continues to rise, financial decisions of aging investors may have an increasing impact on the global economy. In this study, we examined age differences in financial decisions across the adult life span by combining functional neuroimaging with a dynamic financial investment task. During the task, older adults made more suboptimal choices than younger adults when choosing risky assets.

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Dec
2009

A reward or punishment can seem better or worse depending on what else might have happened. Little is known, however, about how neural representations of an anticipated incentive might be influenced by the available alternatives. We used event-related FMRI to investigate the activation in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), while we varied the available alternative incentives in a monetary incentive delay task.

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Jan
2010

Although cells in many brain regions respond to reward, the cortical-basal ganglia circuit is at the heart of the reward system. The key structures in this network are the anterior cingulate cortex, the orbital prefrontal cortex, the ventral striatum, the ventral pallidum, and the midbrain dopamine neurons. In addition, other structures, including the dorsal prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and lateral habenular nucleus, and specific brainstem structures such as the pedunculopontine nucleus, and the raphe nucleus, are key components in regulating the reward circuit.

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Jun
2009

Some people find it more difficult to delay rewards than others. In three experiments, we tested a "future self-continuity" hypothesis that individual differences in the perception of one's present self as continuous with a future self would be associated with measures of saving in the laboratory and everyday life. Higher future self-continuity (assessed by a novel index) predicted reduced discounting of future rewards in a laboratory task, more matches in adjectival descriptions of present and future selves, and greater lifetime accumulation of financial assets (even after controlling for age and education).

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Oct
2009

Alcohol dependence is often associated with impulsivity, which may be correlated with dysfunction of the brain reward system. We explored whether functional brain activation during anticipation of incentive stimuli is associated with impulsiveness in detoxified alcoholics and healthy control subjects.
Nineteen detoxified male alcoholics and 19 age-matched healthy men participated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study using a monetary incentive delay (MID) task, in which visual cues predicted that a rapid response to a subsequent target stimulus would either result in monetary gain, avoidance of monetary loss, or no consequence.

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Aug
2009

We investigated whether performance on a reward processing task differs between fully remitted patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy control subjects after catecholamine depletion.
Seventeen unmedicated subjects with remitted MDD (RMDD) and 13 healthy control subjects underwent catecholamine depletion with oral alpha-methyl-para-tyrosine (AMPT) in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study. The main outcome measure was the reaction time on the monetary incentive delay (MID) task.

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Dec
2008

Despite growing interest in applying machine learning to neuroimaging analyses, few studies have gone beyond classifying sensory input to directly predicting behavioral output. With spatial resolution on the order of millimeters and temporal resolution on the order of seconds, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a promising technology for such applications. However, fMRI data's low signal-to-noise ratio, high dimensionality, and extensive spatiotemporal correlations present formidable analytic challenges.

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Mar
2009

In temporal discounting, individuals often prefer smaller immediate rewards to larger delayed rewards, implying a trade off between the magnitude and delay of future rewards. While recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigations of temporal discounting have generated conflicting findings, no studies have focused on whether distinct neural substrates respond to the magnitude and delay of future rewards. Combining a novel, temporally distributed discounting task with event-related fMRI, we found that while nucleus accumbens (NAcc), mesial prefrontal cortical (MPFC), and posterior cingulate cortical (PCC) activation positively correlated with future reward magnitude, dorsolateral prefrontal cortical (DLPFC) and posterior parietal cortical (PPC) activation negatively correlated with future reward delay.

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Mar
2009

Despite increases in the human life span, people have not increased their rate of saving. In a phenomenon known as 'temporal discounting', people value immediate gains over future gains. According to a future self-continuity hypothesis, individuals perceive and treat the future self differently from the present self, and so might fail to save for their future.

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Aug
2008

Deficient recruitment of motivational circuitry by non-drug rewards has been postulated as a pre-morbid risk factor for substance dependence (SD). We tested whether parental alcoholism, which confers risk of SD, is correlated with altered recruitment of ventral striatum (VS) by non-drug rewards in adolescence.
During functional magnetic resonance imaging, adolescent children of alcoholics (COA; age 12-16 years) with no psychiatric disorders (including substance abuse) and similarly aged children with no risk factors responded to targets to win or avoid losing $0, $0.

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Dec
2008

Anticipatory affect: neural correlates and consequences for choice.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2008 Dec;363(1511):3771-86
Brian Knutson, Stephanie M Greer
'Anticipatory affect' refers to emotional states that people experience while anticipating significant outcomes. Historically, technical limitations have made it difficult to determine whether anticipatory affect influences subsequent choice. Recent advances in the spatio-temporal resolution of functional magnetic resonance imaging, however, now allow researchers to visualize changes in neural activity seconds before choice occurs.

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Jun
2008

The "endowment effect" refers to the tendency to place greater value on items that one owns-an anomaly that violates the reference-independence assumption of rational choice theories. We investigated neural antecedents of the endowment effect in an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. During scanning, 24 subjects considered six products paired with 18 different prices under buying, choosing, or selling conditions.

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Jun
2008

Affective forecasting, experienced affect, and recalled affect were compared in younger and older adults during a task in which participants worked to win and avoid losing small monetary sums. Dynamic changes in affect were measured along valence and arousal dimensions, with probes during both anticipatory and consummatory task phases. Older and younger adults displayed distinct patterns of affect dynamics.

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