Neurobehavioural characterisation and stratification of reinforcement-related behaviour

Nat Hum Behav. 2020 May;4(5):544-558. doi: 10.1038/s41562-020-0846-5. Epub 2020 Apr 20.


Reinforcement-related cognitive processes, such as reward processing, inhibitory control and social-emotional regulation are critical components of externalising and internalising behaviours. It is unclear to what extent the deficit in each of these processes contributes to individual behavioural symptoms, how their neural substrates give rise to distinct behavioural outcomes and whether neural activation profiles across different reinforcement-related processes might differentiate individual behaviours. We created a statistical framework that enabled us to directly compare functional brain activation during reward anticipation, motor inhibition and viewing emotional faces in the European IMAGEN cohort of 2,000 14-year-old adolescents. We observe significant correlations and modulation of reward anticipation and motor inhibition networks in hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentive behaviour and conduct symptoms, and we describe neural signatures across cognitive tasks that differentiate these behaviours. We thus characterise shared and distinct functional brain activation patterns underling different externalising symptoms and identify neural stratification markers, while accounting for clinically observed comorbidity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Reward