Although global declines in structure have been documented in the aging human brain, little is known about the functional integrity of the striatum and prefrontal cortex in older adults during incentive processing. We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine whether younger and older adults differed in both self-reported and neural responsiveness to anticipated monetary gains and losses. The present study provides evidence for intact striatal and insular activation during gain anticipation with age, but shows a relative reduction in activation during loss anticipation. These findings suggest that there is an asymmetry in the processing of gains and losses in older adults that may have implications for decision-making.
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*NOTE: In the version of this article initially published, the first author’s name was incorrect. The first author’s name should be Gregory R Samanez-Larkin. The error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.
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We would like to thank G.E. Wimmer and N.G. Hollon for assistance with data collection. This research was supported by US National Institute on Aging Research Grant AG008816, Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging grant AG017253 and Center on Advancing Decision Making in Aging grant AG024957.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Post-task cue ratings. (PDF 524 kb)
Gain versus nongain anticipation contrast maps for younger adults and older adults. (PDF 4575 kb)
Loss versus nonloss anticipation contrast maps for younger adults and older adults. (PDF 4429 kb)
BOLD activation extracted from the ventral striatum at anticipation. (PDF 495 kb)
Time courses of activation during anticipation of gain and loss in right ventral striatum. (PDF 654 kb)
Correlations between self-reported affect and brain activation. (PDF 616 kb)
Correlations between self-reported affect and brain activation. (PDF 627 kb)
Time courses of activation during anticipation of gain and loss in left medial caudate. (PDF 651 kb)
Time courses of activation during anticipation of gain and loss in right anterior insula. (PDF 651 kb)
Gain versus nongain outcome contrast maps for younger adults and older adults. (PDF 8582 kb)
Time courses of activation during outcome in left MPFC. (PDF 636 kb)
Time courses of activation during outcome in right ventral striatum. (PDF 639 kb)
MIL task performance. (PDF 582 kb)
MIL task performance over time. (PDF 518 kb)
Time courses of activation from individual participants extracted from voxels in primary visual cortex during a visual localizer task. (PDF 503 kb)
MID task schematic. (PDF 2558 kb)
MIL task schematic. (PDF 1904 kb)
Group maps for younger adults and older adults. (PDF 64 kb)
Comparison of older versus younger adults. (PDF 36 kb)
Monetary incentive learning (MIL) task performance. (PDF 32 kb)
Demographics, questionnaire data and cognitive test battery results. (PDF 40 kb)
Placement of 6-mm-diameter VOI spheres. (PDF 45 kb)
Study 1. (PDF 67 kb)
Study 1. (PDF 103 kb)
Study 1. (PDF 143 kb)
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Samanez-Larkin, G., Gibbs, S., Khanna, K. et al. Anticipation of monetary gain but not loss in healthy older adults. Nat Neurosci 10, 787–791 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1894
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