Functional connectivity with ventromedial prefrontal cortex reflects subjective value for social rewards.
According to many studies, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) encodes the subjective value of disparate rewards on a common scale. Yet, a host of other reward factors-likely represented outside of VMPFC-must be integrated to construct such signals for valuation. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we tested whether the interactions between posterior VMPFC and functionally connected brain regions predict subjective value. During fMRI scanning, participants rated the attractiveness of unfamiliar faces. We found that activation in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, anterior VMPFC and caudate increased with higher attractiveness ratings. Using data from a post-scan task in which participants spent money to view attractive faces, we quantified each individual's subjective value for attractiveness. We found that connectivity between posterior VMPFC and regions frequently modulated by social information-including the temporal-parietal junction (TPJ) and middle temporal gyrus-was correlated with individual differences in subjective value. Crucially, these additional regions explained unique variation in subjective value beyond that extracted from value regions alone. These findings indicate not only that posterior VMPFC interacts with additional brain regions during valuation, but also that these additional regions carry information employed to construct the subjective value for social reward.
Smith, DV; Clithero, JA; Boltuck, SE; Huettel, SA
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