Reward, such as monetary gain, and punishment, such as monetary loss, are capable of modifying the electrophysiological signals of the brain. Further, it is known that there are individual differences in the sensitivity for reward and punishment. This study set out to test the relationship between self-reported sensitivity to reward and sensitivity to punishment and electrophysiological brain responses to monetary gains and losses. Subjects filled out the modified Behavioral Inhibition System/Behavioral Activation System scales for measuring responsiveness to reward (RR) and responsiveness to punishment (RP), and performed a gambling task. The results showed that there was a significant positive correlation between scores on the RR scale and P3 amplitudes on the Fz electrode location to win, loss, and break even outcomes. There was no significant correlation, however, between scores on the RP scale and the P3 amplitudes to all outcomes. For the feedback-related negativity, no significant correlations with both the RR and RP scales were present. Thus individuals scoring high on RR seem to be generally more sensitive to outcomes (either positive or negative) during a task where they might receive a reward.

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Journal of Psychophysiology (Print)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van den Berg, I, Franken, I.H.A, & Muris, P.E.H.M. (2011). Individual differences in sensitivity to reward: Association with electrophysiological responses to monetary gains and losses. Journal of Psychophysiology (Print), 25(2), 81–86. doi:10.1027/0269-8803/a000032