Helga A. Harsay, Michael X. Cohen, Nikolaas N. Oosterhof, Birte U. Forstmann, Rogier B. Mars, and K. Richard Ridderinkhof
J. Neurosci. 2011;31 10701-10711
Motivation improves the efficiency of intentional behavior, but how this performance modulation is instantiated in the human brain remains unclear. We used a reward-cued antisaccade paradigm to investigate how motivational goals (the expectation of a reward for good performance) modulate patterns of neural activation and functional connectivity to improve preparation for antisaccade performance. Behaviorally, subjects performed better (faster and more accurate antisaccades) when they knew they would be rewarded for good performance. Reward anticipation was associated with increased activation in the ventral and dorsal striatum, and cortical oculomotor regions. Functional connectivity between the caudate nucleus and cortical oculomotor control structures predicted individual differences in the behavioral benefit of reward anticipation. We conclude that although both dorsal and ventral striatal circuitry are involved in the anticipation of reward, only the dorsal striatum and its connected cortical network is involved in the direct modulation of oculomotor behavior by motivational incentive.