Simultaneous EEG and fMRI reveals a causally connected subcortical-cortical network during reward anticipation

J Neurosci. 2013 Sep 4;33(36):14526-33. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0631-13.2013.


Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have been used to study the neural correlates of reward anticipation, but the interrelation of EEG and fMRI measures remains unknown. The goal of the present study was to investigate this relationship in response to a well established reward anticipation paradigm using simultaneous EEG-fMRI recording in healthy human subjects. Analysis of causal interactions between the thalamus (THAL), ventral-striatum (VS), and supplementary motor area (SMA), using both mediator analysis and dynamic causal modeling, revealed that (1) THAL fMRI blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) activity is mediating intermodal correlations between the EEG contingent negative variation (CNV) signal and the fMRI BOLD signal in SMA and VS, (2) the underlying causal connectivity network consists of top-down regulation from SMA to VS and SMA to THAL along with an excitatory information flow through a THAL→VS→SMA route during reward anticipation, and (3) the EEG CNV signal is best predicted by a combination of THAL fMRI BOLD response and strength of top-down regulation from SMA to VS and SMA to THAL. Collectively, these findings represent a likely neurobiological mechanism mapping a primarily subcortical process, i.e., reward anticipation, onto a cortical signature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticipation, Psychological*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Thalamus / physiology*