Journal Article

Adaptive neural reward processing during anticipation and receipt of monetary rewards in mindfulness meditators

Ulrich Kirk, Kirk Warren Brown and Jonathan Downar

in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

Volume 10, issue 5, pages 752-759
Published in print May 2015 | ISSN: 1749-5016
Published online September 2014 | e-ISSN: 1749-5024 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsu112
Adaptive neural reward processing during anticipation and receipt of monetary rewards in mindfulness meditators

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Reward seeking is ubiquitous and adaptive in humans. But excessive reward seeking behavior, such as chasing monetary rewards, may lead to diminished subjective well-being. This study examined whether individuals trained in mindfulness meditation show neural evidence of lower susceptibility to monetary rewards. Seventy-eight participants (34 meditators, 44 matched controls) completed the monetary incentive delay task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. The groups performed equally on the task, but meditators showed lower neural activations in the caudate nucleus during reward anticipation, and elevated bilateral posterior insula activation during reward anticipation. Meditators also evidenced reduced activations in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex during reward receipt compared with controls. Connectivity parameters between the right caudate and bilateral anterior insula were attenuated in meditators during incentive anticipation. In summary, brain regions involved in reward processing—both during reward anticipation and receipt of reward—responded differently in mindfulness meditators than in nonmeditators, indicating that the former are less susceptible to monetary incentives.

Keywords: mindfulness; reward processing; fMRI; connectivity analysis; dorsal striatum; insular cortex

Journal Article.  5377 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognition and Behavioural Neuroscience

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