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Variation in Dopamine Function Impacts Cost/Benefit Decisions

Individual variation in dopamine function linked to willingness to work for a reward

FRIDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Variation in human dopamine function is associated with cost/benefit preferences, according to a study published in the May 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Michael T. Treadway, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues measured dopamine responsivity in 25 healthy volunteers who had completed a dual-scan positron emission tomography imaging protocol with [18F]fallypride and d-amphetamine. The volunteers also completed the effort expenditure for rewards task, a behavioral measure of cost/benefit decision-making.

The researchers found that individual differences in dopamine function in the left striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex were associated with a willingness to apply greater effort for larger rewards, especially when there was a low probability of receiving a reward. Willingness to expend effort for rewards was negatively correlated with variability in dopamine responses in the bilateral insula.

"These findings highlight the role of dopamine signaling in striatal, prefrontal, and insular regions as key neurochemical mechanisms underlying individual differences in cost/benefit decision-making," the authors write.

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