Love is analogous to money in human brain: Coordinate-based and functional connectivity meta-analyses of social and monetary reward anticipation

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019 May:100:108-128. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.02.017. Epub 2019 Feb 23.


Both social and material rewards play a crucial role in daily life and function as strong incentives for various goal-directed behaviors. However, it remains unclear whether the incentive effects of social and material reward are supported by common or distinct neural circuits. Here, we have addressed this issue by quantitatively synthesizing and comparing neural signatures underlying social (21 contrasts, 207 foci, 696 subjects) and monetary (94 contrasts, 1083 foci, 2060 subjects) reward anticipation. We demonstrated that social and monetary reward anticipation engaged a common neural circuit consisting of the ventral tegmental area, ventral striatum, anterior insula, and supplementary motor area, which are intensively connected during both task and resting states. Functional decoding findings indicate that this generic neural pathway mediates positive value, motivational relevance, and action preparation during reward anticipation, which together motivate individuals to prepare well for the response to the upcoming target. Our findings support the common neural currency hypothesis by providing the first meta-analytic evidence to quantitatively show the common involvement of brain regions in both social and material reward anticipation.

Keywords: Functional decoding; Meta-analysis; Meta-analytic connectivity modeling; Monetary incentive delay task; Resting-state functional connectivity; Reward anticipation; Social reward.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Love*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reward*
  • Social Behavior*