JOURNAL ARTICLE

Reward Sensitivity and Waiting Impulsivity: Shift towards Reward Valuation away from Action Control

Daisy J Mechelmans, Daniela Strelchuk, Nuria Doñamayor, Paula Banca, Trevor W Robbins, Kwangyeol Baek, Valerie Voon
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 2017 December 1, 20 (12): 971-978
29020291

Background: Impulsivity and reward expectancy are commonly interrelated. Waiting impulsivity, measured using the rodent 5-Choice Serial Reaction Time task, predicts compulsive cocaine seeking and sign (or cue) tracking. Here, we assess human waiting impulsivity using a novel translational task, the 4-Choice Serial Reaction Time task, and the relationship with reward cues.

Methods: Healthy volunteers (n=29) performed the monetary incentive delay task as a functional MRI study where subjects observe a cue predicting reward (cue) and wait to respond for high (£5), low (£1), or no reward. Waiting impulsivity was tested with the 4-Choice Serial Reaction Time task.

Results: For high reward prospects (£5, no reward), greater waiting impulsivity on the 4-CSRT correlated with greater medial orbitofrontal cortex and lower supplementary motor area activity to cues. In response to high reward cues, greater waiting impulsivity was associated with greater subthalamic nucleus connectivity with orbitofrontal cortex and greater subgenual cingulate connectivity with anterior insula, but decreased connectivity with regions implicated in action selection and preparation.

Conclusion: These findings highlight a shift towards regions implicated in reward valuation and a shift towards compulsivity away from higher level motor preparation and action selection and response. We highlight the role of reward sensitivity and impulsivity, mechanisms potentially linking human waiting impulsivity with incentive approach and compulsivity, theories highly relevant to disorders of addiction.

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