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Association between real-world experiential diversity and positive affect relates to hippocampal–striatal functional connectivity


Experiential diversity promotes well-being in animal models. Here, using geolocation tracking, experience sampling and neuroimaging, we found that daily variability in physical location was associated with increased positive affect in humans. This effect was stronger for individuals who exhibited greater functional coupling of the hippocampus and striatum. These results link diversity in real-world daily experiences to fluctuations in positive affect and identify a hippocampal–striatal circuit associated with this bidirectional relationship.

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Fig. 1: Geolocation tracking in New York and Miami.
Fig. 2: Physical location transformed into sociodemographic feature space.
Fig. 3: Entropy–affect association is linked to hippocampal–ventral striatal connectivity.

Data availability

The raw geolocation datasets generated and/or analyzed during this study are not publicly available due to the inherently identifiable nature of geolocation data, but they are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request. The processed data necessary to reproduce the central findings in the manuscript are available at

Code availability

Custom R scripts were used to analyze and plot all data. The main analysis code was used to calculate the mean and standard deviation for RE. Code is available online at


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C.A.H. was supported in part by a Klingenstein–Simons Fellowship Award, an NSF Career Award (1654393), a Jacobs Foundation Early Career Fellowship and the NYU Vulnerable Brain Project. A.S.H. was supported by a John Templeton Award and NIH grants 3R01CA206456-03S1 and 1R01AG051346-01. We thank N. Bryce and L. Hunter for assistance with data collection.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.S.H. and C.A.H. conceived and designed the study. T.C.S. and C.E.C.E. collected the data. A.S.H., T.C.S., T.R.R., L.M.B., C.J.G. and C.A.H. analyzed the data. A.S.H. and C.A.H. interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript with input from the other authors.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Aaron S. Heller or Catherine A. Hartley.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Peer review information Nature Neuroscience thanks Ulman Lindenberger, Andreas M. Brandmaier, Tali Sharot and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Positive and negative affect by day of week.

This figure depicts the parameter estimates of the effect of day of week (DOW) on positive and negative affect from linear mixed-effects models that included RE, time of day EMA was collected, distance travelled, mean temperature and precipitation (from the modal location of that day for that participant), and cohort as predictors (n = 122 independent human participants). Of the variables in models, only day of the week was also significantly associated with PA, with PA lower early to mid-week relative to the weekend (F(3834) = 2.8, p = 0.011). Both temperature (B = 0.062, t(3835) = 2.585, p = 0.01) and day of the week (F(3835) = 3.0, p = 0.006) were significantly associated with negative affect, which was greater on higher temperature days and in the early to mid-week relative to the weekend. Error bars represent standard error of parameter estimate.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Appendix 1, Supplementary Tables 1–5, Supplementary Figs. 1–7 and Supplementary Notes 1–3.

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Heller, A.S., Shi, T.C., Ezie, C.E.C. et al. Association between real-world experiential diversity and positive affect relates to hippocampal–striatal functional connectivity. Nat Neurosci 23, 800–804 (2020).

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