Reward-related regions form a preferentially coupled system at rest

Jeremy F. Huckins, Babatunde Adeyemo, Fran M. Miezin, Jonathan D. Power, Evan M. Gordon, Timothy O. Laumann, Todd F. Heatherton, Steven E. Petersen, William M. Kelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Neuroimaging studies have implicated a set of striatal and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) regions that are commonly activated during reward processing tasks. Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) studies have demonstrated that the human brain is organized into several functional systems that show strong temporal coherence in the absence of goal-directed tasks. Here we use seed-based and graph-theory RSFC approaches to characterize the systems-level organization of putative reward regions of at rest. Peaks of connectivity from seed-based RSFC patterns for the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) were used to identify candidate reward regions which were merged with a previously used set of regions (Power et al., 2011). Graph-theory was then used to determine system-level membership for all regions. Several regions previously implicated in reward-processing (NAcc, lateral and medial OFC, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) comprised a distinct, preferentially coupled system. This RSFC system is stable across a range of connectivity thresholds and shares strong overlap with meta-analyses of task-based reward studies. This reward system shares between-system connectivity with systems implicated in cognitive control and self-regulation, including the fronto-parietal, cingulo-opercular, and default systems. Differences may exist in the pathways through which control systems interact with reward system components. Whereas NAcc is functionally connected to cingulo-opercular and default systems, OFC regions show stronger connectivity with the fronto-parietal system. We propose that future work may be able to interrogate group or individual differences in connectivity profiles using the regions delineated in this work to explore potential relationships to appetitive behaviors, self-regulation failure, and addiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • network
  • nucleus accumbens
  • orbitofrontal cortex
  • resting-state fMRI
  • reward
  • self-regulation
  • system


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