Electrophysiological ratio markers for the balance between reward and punishment

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Aug;24(3):685-90. doi: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2005.04.002.


It has been argued that prototypical forms of psychopathology result from an imbalance in reward and punishment systems. Recent studies suggest that the ratios between slower and faster waves of the electroencephalogram (EEG) index this motivational balance and might therefore have diagnostic value for psychopathology. To scrutinize this notion, the present study investigated whether resting state EEG ratios would predict decision making on the Iowa gambling task (Iowa-GT), a well-known marker for motivational imbalance. A resting state EEG recording was acquired followed by the Iowa-GT in twenty-eight healthy right-handed volunteers. Results showed that higher versus lower EEG ratios were associated with disadvantageous versus advantageous decision making strategies indicating motivational imbalances in reward- and punishment-driven behavior, respectively. This finding provides the first direct evidence that the electrophysiologically derived EEG ratios can serve as biological markers for balance and imbalance in motivation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beta Rhythm
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Delta Rhythm
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Punishment / psychology*
  • Reward*
  • Theta Rhythm