White-Matter Tract Connecting Anterior Insula to Nucleus Accumbens Correlates with Reduced Preference for Positively Skewed Gambles.

Published

Journal Article

Individuals sometimes show inconsistent risk preferences, including excessive attraction to gambles featuring small chances of winning large amounts (called "positively skewed" gambles). While functional neuroimaging research indicates that nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and anterior insula (AIns) activity inversely predict risky choice, structural connections between these regions have not been described in humans. By combining diffusion-weighted MRI with tractography, we identified the anatomical trajectory of white-matter tracts projecting from the AIns to the NAcc and statistically validated these tracts using Linear Fascicle Evaluation (LiFE) and virtual lesions. Coherence of the right AIns-NAcc tract correlated with reduced preferences for positively skewed gambles. Further, diminished NAcc activity during gamble presentation mediated the association between tract structure and choice. These results identify an unreported tract connecting the AIns to the NAcc in humans and support the notion that structural connections can alter behavior by influencing brain activity as individuals weigh uncertain gains against uncertain losses.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Leong, JK; Pestilli, F; Wu, CC; Samanez-Larkin, GR; Knutson, B

Published Date

  • January 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 89 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 63 - 69

PubMed ID

  • 26748088

Pubmed Central ID

  • 26748088

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-4199

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0896-6273

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.12.015

Language

  • eng