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Predictability modulates human brain response to reward.

Certain classes of stimuli, such as food and drugs, are highly effective in activating reward regions. We show in humans that activity in these regions can be modulated by the predictability of the sequenced delivery of two mildly pleasurable stimuli, orally delivered fruit juice and water. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the activity for rewarding stimuli in both the nucleus accumbens and medial orbitofrontal cortex was greatest when the stimuli were unpredictable. Moreover, the subjects' stated preference for either juice or water was not directly correlated with activity in reward regions but instead was correlated with activity in sensorimotor cortex. For pleasurable stimuli, these findings suggest that predictability modulates the response of human reward regions, and subjective preference can be dissociated from this response.

Pubmed ID: 11306631


  • Berns GS
  • McClure SM
  • Pagnoni G
  • Montague PR


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Data

April 15, 2001

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIDA NIH HHS, Id: K08 DA00367
  • Agency: NIDA NIH HHS, Id: R01 DA11723

Mesh Terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Computer Simulation
  • Corpus Striatum
  • Deglutition
  • Food Preferences
  • Frontal Lobe
  • Hippocampus
  • Humans
  • Intuition
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neural Networks (Computer)
  • Nucleus Accumbens
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Reward
  • Somatosensory Cortex
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Taste