Different neural systems adjust motor behavior in response to reward and punishment

Jana Wrase, Thorsten Kahnt, Florian Schlagenhauf, Anne Beck, Michael X. Cohen, Brian Knutson, Andreas Heinz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Individuals use the outcomes of their actions to adjust future behavior. However, it remains unclear whether the same neural circuits are used to adjust behavior due to rewarding and punishing outcomes. Here we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a reward-providing reaction time task to investigate the adaptation of a simple motor response following four different outcomes (delivery versus omission and monetary gain versus loss). We found that activation in the thalamus and insula predicted adjustments of motor responses due to outcomes that were cued and delivered, whereas activation in the ventral striatum predicted such adjustments when outcomes were cued but omitted. Further, activation of OFC predicted improvement after all punishing outcomes, independent of whether they were omitted rewards or delivered punishments. Finally, we found that activity in anterior cingulate predicted adjustment after delivered punishments and activity in dorsal striatum predicted adaptation after delivered rewards. Our results provide evidence that different but somewhat overlapping circuits mediate the same behavioral adaptation when it is driven by different incentive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1253-1262
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2007


  • Anterior cingulate
  • Behavior adaptation
  • Instrumental learning
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Striatum
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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