Navigation Links
Getting an expected award music to the brain's ears

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


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 a number on a screen and had to press a button to indicate whether the number was greater or smaller than 5. If the sound before indicated that they could receive a reward and they solved the number task quickly and correctly, an image of a 50 Euro cents coin appeared on the screen. The researchers monitored brain activity in the subjects' auditory cortex throughout the task, paying special attention to what happened when they received the reward, or not, at the end of the round.


The study authors found that when the volunteers were expecting and finally received a reward, then their auditory cortex was activated. Similarly, there was an increase in brain activity in this area when the subjects weren't expecting a reward and didn't get one. There was no additional activity when they were expecting a reward and didn't get one.

Importance of the Findings

These findings add to accumulating evidence that the auditory cortex performs a role beyond just processing sound. Rather, this area of the brain appears to be activated during other activities that require learning and thought, such as confirming expectations of receiving a reward.

"Our findings thus support the view of a highly cognitive role of the auditory cortex," the study authors say.

Study Team

In addition to Tina Weis, the study team also includes Andre Brechmann of the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology, and Sebastian Puschmann and Christiane M. Thiel of Carl-von-Ossietzky University.


Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

Related biology news :

1. Why getting healthy can seem worse than getting sick
2. Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find
3. Scripps Florida scientists identify neurotranmitters that lead to forgetting
4. University of Tennessee anthropologists find American heads are getting larger
5. Carbon is key for getting algae to pump out more oil
6. Getting to the root -- unearthing the plant-microbe quid pro quo
7. For young birds, getting stressed out can be a good thing
8. Getting (drugs) under your skin
9. Texas cotton getting a genetic tune-up
10. Overweight pregnant women not getting proper weight-gain advice
11. Cheating -- and getting away with it
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... 09, 2015 ... the "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market ... --> ) has announced the ... Biometrics Market 2015-2019" report to their ... ( ) has announced the addition ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative ... of clinical research, is pleased to announce that it ... (MHTA) as one of only three finalists for a ... Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor ... superior technology innovation and leadership. iMedNet™ ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, Joseph C. ... of technology-enabled health and wellness, and the business opportunities ... The Internet of Healthy Things . Long ... even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, Connected Health, Partners ... delivery, moving care from the hospital or doctor,s office ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... 2015 , ... A long-standing partnership between the Academy of ... formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. , AMA Executive Director ... Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at AMA Headquarters in ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 25, 2015 ... Report is a professional and in-depth study on ...      (Logo: ) , ... the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and industry ... for the international markets including development trends, competitive ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) ... research organisation (CRO) market. The trend of outsourcing ... lower margins but higher volume share for the ... and scale, however, margins in the CRO industry ... (CRO) Market ( ), finds that ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today ... following conference, and invited investors to participate via webcast. ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ...      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time ... New York, NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: