Document Type




Format of Original

9 p.

Publication Date



Frontiers Media S.A

Source Publication

Frontiers in Neuroscience

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00157


People often make decisions under aversive conditions such as acute stress. Yet, less is known about the process in which acute stress can influence decision-making. A growing body of research has established that reward-related information associated with the outcomes of decisions exerts a powerful influence over the choices people make and that an extensive network of brain regions, prominently featuring the striatum, is involved in the processing of this reward-related information. Thus, an important step in research on the nature of acute stress’ influence over decision-making is to examine how it may modulate responses to rewards and punishments within reward processing neural circuitry. In the current experiment, we employed a simple reward processing paradigm – where participants received monetary rewards and punishments – known to evoke robust striatal responses. Immediately prior to performing each of two task runs, participants were exposed to acute stress (i.e., cold pressor) or a no stress control procedure in a betweensubjects fashion. No stress group participants exhibited a pattern of activity within the dorsal striatum and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) consistent with past research on outcome processing – specifically, differential responses for monetary rewards over punishments. In contrast, acute stress group participants’ dorsal striatumand OFC demonstrated decreased sensitivity to monetary outcomes and a lack of differential activity. These findings provide insight into how neural circuits may process rewards and punishments associated with simple decisions under acutely stressful conditions.


Published version. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol. 6, No. 157 (November 2012): 1-9. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00157. © 2012 Frontiers Research Foundation. This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission.

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