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What can the monetary incentive delay task tell us about the neural processing of reward and punishment?

Authors Lutz K, Widmer M

Received 4 December 2013

Accepted for publication 24 January 2014

Published 16 April 2014 Volume 2014:3 Pages 33—45

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S38864

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Kai Lutz,1–3 Mario Widmer1,2,4

1Department of Neurology, University Hospital Zürich, Zürich, 2Cereneo, Center for Neurology and Rehabilitation, Vitznau, 3Division of Neuropsychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Zürich, Zürich, 4Neural Control of Movement Lab, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract: Since its introduction in 2000, the monetary incentive delay (MID) task has been used extensively to investigate changes in neural activity in response to the processing of reward and punishment in healthy, but also in clinical populations. Typically, the MID task requires an individual to react to a target stimulus presented after an incentive cue to win or to avoid losing the indicated reward. In doing so, this paradigm allows the detailed examination of different stages of reward processing like reward prediction, anticipation, outcome processing, and consumption as well as the processing of tasks under different reward conditions. This review gives an overview of different utilizations of the MID task by outlining the neuronal processes involved in distinct aspects of human reward processing, such as anticipation versus consumption, reward versus punishment, and, with a special focus, reward-based learning processes. Furthermore, literature on specific influences on reward processing like behavioral, clinical and developmental influences, is reviewed, describing current findings and possible future directions.

Keywords: reward, punishment, dopamine, reward system

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