The motivation of getting rewards or avoiding punishments reinforces learning behaviors. Although the neural mechanisms underlying the effect of rewards on episodic memory have been demonstrated, there is little evidence of the effect of punishments on this memory. Our functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study investigated the effects of monetary rewards and punishments on activation during the encoding of source memories. During encoding, participants memorized words (item) and locations of presented words (source) under 3 conditions (Reward, Punishment, and Control). During retrieval, participants retrieved item and source memories of the words and were rewarded or penalized according to their performance. Source memories encoded with rewards or punishments were remembered better than those without such encoding. fMRI data demonstrated that the ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra and nucleus accumbens activations reflected both the processes of reward and punishment, whereas insular activation increased as a linear function of punishment. Activation in the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex predicted subsequent retrieval success of source memories. Additionally, correlations between these reward/punishment-related regions and the hippocampus were significant. The successful encoding of source memories could be enhanced by punishments and rewards, and interactions between reward/punishment-related regions and memory-related regions could contribute to memory enhancement by reward and/or punishment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience