Dissociable but inter-related systems of cognitive control and reward during decision making: evidence from pupillometry and event-related fMRI

Neuroimage. 2007 Sep 1;37(3):1017-31. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.04.066. Epub 2007 May 24.


Decision making involves the allocation of cognitive resources in response to expectations and feedback. Here we explored how frontal networks respond in a gambling paradigm in which uncertainty was manipulated to increase demands for cognitive control. In one experiment, pupil diameter covaried with uncertainty during decision making and with the degree to which subsequent outcomes violated reward expectations. In a second experiment, fMRI showed that both uncertainty and unexpected outcomes modulated activation in a network of frontal regions. Thus, the frontal network supports multiple phases of the decision-making process including information regarding reward uncertainty and reward outcome. In contrast, striatal activation only tracked reward delivery, suggesting a distinct reward pathway that might, under certain circumstances, oppose the frontal network. These results are consistent with the interpretation that reward signals may bias recruitment of frontal networks that are linked to allocation of cognitive resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Pupil / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Visual Perception / physiology