Neural correlates of inhibition and reward are negatively associated (2019)

Neuroimage. 2019 Aug 1;196:188-194. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.04.021.

Weafer J1, Crane NA2, Gorka SM3, Phan KL4, de Wit H5.


Individuals with impulsive and addictive disorders, including drug addiction, binge eating/obesity, and problem gambling, exhibit both impaired control over behavior and heightened sensitivity to reward. However, it is not known whether such deviation in inhibitory and reward circuitry among clinical populations is a cause or consequence of the disorders. Recent evidence suggests that these constructs may be related at the neural level, and together, increase risk for engaging in maladaptive behaviors. The current study examined the degree to which brain function during inhibition relates to brain function during receipt of reward in healthy young adults who have not yet developed problem behaviors. Participants completed the stop signal task to assess inhibitory control and the doors task to assess reactivity to monetary reward (win vs loss) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Brain activation during response inhibition was negatively correlated with brain activation during reward. Specifically, less brain activation in right prefrontal regions during inhibition, including the right inferior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, and supplementary motor area, was associated with greater brain activation in left ventral striatum during receipt of monetary reward. Moreover, these associations were stronger in binge drinkers compared to non-binge drinkers. These findings suggest that the systems are related even before the onset of impulsive or addictive disorders. As such, it is possible that the association between inhibitory and reward circuitry may be a prospective marker of risk.

KEYWORDS: Binge drinker; Inferior frontal gyrus; Inhibitory control; Reward; Ventral striatum; fMRI

PMID: 30974242

PMCID: PMC6559844

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.04.021