Neural correlates of inhibition and reward are negatively associated

Jessica Weafer, Natania A. Crane, Stephanie M. Gorka, K. Luan Phan, Harriet de Wit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Individuals with impulsive and addictive disorders, including drug addiction, binge eating/obesity, and problem gambling, exhibit both impaired control over behavior and heightened sensitivity to reward. However, it is not known whether such deviation in inhibitory and reward circuitry among clinical populations is a cause or consequence of the disorders. Recent evidence suggests that these constructs may be related at the neural level, and together, increase risk for engaging in maladaptive behaviors. The current study examined the degree to which brain function during inhibition relates to brain function during receipt of reward in healthy young adults who have not yet developed problem behaviors. Participants completed the stop signal task to assess inhibitory control and the doors task to assess reactivity to monetary reward (win vs loss) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Brain activation during response inhibition was negatively correlated with brain activation during reward. Specifically, less brain activation in right prefrontal regions during inhibition, including the right inferior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, and supplementary motor area, was associated with greater brain activation in left ventral striatum during receipt of monetary reward. Moreover, these associations were stronger in binge drinkers compared to non-binge drinkers. These findings suggest that the systems are related even before the onset of impulsive or addictive disorders. As such, it is possible that the association between inhibitory and reward circuitry may be a prospective marker of risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-194
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Grant R01 DA002812 (HdW and KLP). JW was supported by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) grant K01 AA024519 . SMG was supported by NIAAA grant K23 AA025111 . The funding agencies had no involvement in the research other than financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Binge drinker
  • Inferior frontal gyrus
  • Inhibitory control
  • Reward
  • Ventral striatum
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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