The aim of this study was to determine the brain regions involved in anticipation of a primary taste reward and to compare these regions to those responding to the receipt of a taste reward. Using fMRI, we scanned human subjects who were presented with visual cues that signaled subsequent reinforcement with a pleasant sweet taste (1 M glucose), a moderately unpleasant salt taste (0.2 M saline), or a neutral taste. Expectation of a pleasant taste produced activation in dopaminergic midbrain, posterior dorsal amygdala, striatum, and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Apart from OFC, these regions were not activated by reward receipt. The findings indicate that when rewards are predictable, brain regions recruited during expectation are, in part, dissociable from areas responding to reward receipt.
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