Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

A unique adolescent response to reward prediction errors


Previous work has shown that human adolescents may be hypersensitive to rewards, but it is not known which aspect of reward processing is responsible for this. We separated decision value and prediction error signals and found that neural prediction error signals in the striatum peaked in adolescence, whereas neural decision value signals varied depending on how value was modeled. This suggests that heightened dopaminergic prediction error responsivity contributes to adolescent reward seeking.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Experimental design.
Figure 2: fMRI results.


  1. Casey, B.J., Getz, S. & Galvan, A. Dev. Rev. 28, 62–77 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Kahneman, D. & Tversky, A. Econometrica 47, 263–291 (1979).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Chib, V.S., Rangel, A., Shimojo, S. & O'Doherty, J.P. J. Neurosci. 29, 12315–12320 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Tom, S.M., Fox, C.R., Trepel, C. & Poldrack, R.A. Science 315, 515–518 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Rescorla, R.A. & Wagner, A.R. in Classical Conditioning II: Current Research and Theory (eds. Black, A. & Prokasy, W.F.) 64–99 (Appleton Century Crofts, New York, 1972).

  6. Schultz, W., Dayan, P. & Montague, P.R. Science 275, 1593–1599 (1997).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Pagnoni, G., Zink, C.F., Montague, P.R. & Berns, G.S. Nat. Neurosci. 5, 97–98 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Ernst, M. et al. Neuroimage 25, 1279–1291 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Galvan, A. et al. J. Neurosci. 26, 6885–6892 (2006).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Bjork, J.M. et al. J. Neurosci. 24, 1793–1802 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. May, J.C. et al. Biol. Psychiatry 55, 359–366 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Knowlton, B.J., Mangels, J.A. & Squire, L.R. Science 273, 1399–1402 (1996).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hare, T.A., O'Doherty, J., Camerer, C.F., Schultz, W. & Rangel, A. J. Neurosci. 28, 5623–5630 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. D'Ardenne, K., McClure, S.M., Nystrom, L.E. & Cohen, J.D. Science 319, 1264–1267 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Berridge, K.C. & Robinson, T.E. Brain Res. Brain Res. Rev. 28, 309–369 (1998).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (5R24 MH072697), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (5F31 DA024534), the James S. McDonnell Foundation and the Della Martin Foundation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



J.R.C. helped design the experiments, conducted data acquisition and analyses, and wrote the manuscript. R.F.A., R.M.B. and S.Y.B. designed the experiments. F.W.S. contributed to data acquisition. B.J.K. and R.A.P. designed the experiments and helped write the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessica R Cohen.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–9, Supplementary Tables 1–5 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 3051 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cohen, J., Asarnow, R., Sabb, F. et al. A unique adolescent response to reward prediction errors. Nat Neurosci 13, 669–671 (2010).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing