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Getting an expected award music to the brain's ears
Date:9/25/2013

BETHESDA, Md. (Sept. 25, 2013)Several studies have shown that expecting a reward or punishment can affect brain activity in areas responsible for processing different senses, including sight or touch. For example, research shows that these brain regions light up on brain scans when humans are expecting a treat. However, researchers know less about what happens when the reward is actually receivedor an expected reward is denied. Insight on these scenarios can help researchers better understand how we learn in general.

To get a better grasp on how the brain behaves when people who are expecting a reward actually receive it, or conversely, are denied it, Tina Weis of Carl-von-Ossietzky University and her colleagues monitored the auditory cortexthe part of the brain that processes and interprets soundswhile volunteers solved a task in which they had a chance of winning 50 Euro cents with each round, signaled by a specific sound. Their findings show that the auditory cortex activity picked up both when participants were expecting a reward and received it, as well as when their expectation of receiving no reward was correct.

The article is entitled "Feedback that Confirms Reward Expectation Triggers Auditory Cortex Activity." It appears in the Articles in Press section of the Journal of Neurophysiology, published by the American Physiological Society. The article is online at http://bit.ly/19fDKn6.

Methodology

The researchers worked with 105 healthy adult volunteers with normal hearing. While each volunteer received a functional MRI (fMRI)a brain scan that measures brain activity during tasksthe researchers had them solve a task with sounds where they had the chance of winning money at the end of each round. At the beginning of a round participants heard a sound and had to learn if this sound signified that they could win a 50 Euro cents reward or not. They then saw
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Contact: Donna Krupa
dkrupa@the-aps.org
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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