Afternoon slump in reward response

August 21, 2017, Society for Neuroscience
Activation of a reward-processing brain region peaks in the morning and evening and dips at 2 p.m. Credit: Byrne et al., The Journal of Neuroscience (2017)

Activation of a reward-processing brain region peaks in the morning and evening and dips at 2 p.m., finds a study of healthy young men published in The Journal of Neuroscience. This finding may parallel the drop in alertness people tend to feel in mid-afternoon.

Greg Murray and colleagues compared activation of the brain's reward system in 16 men during a gambling task at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. They found that activation in the left putamen was lowest in the early afternoon. The result contrasts with previous research showing that people report being in the best mood—a subjective measure of reward activation—at this time. The authors suggest that activation is greater in the morning and evening because rewards are not expected at these times.

Understanding the timing of reward response could have implications for the treatment of disorders in which symptoms fluctuate throughout the day, such as depression, and . This work also calls into question neuroimaging studies that do not control for or report the time of day when scanning took place.

Explore further: Brain responds differently to food rewards in bulimia nervosa

More information: Time of day differences in neural reward functioning in healthy young men, The Journal of Neuroscience (2017). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0918-17.2017

Related Stories

Brain responds differently to food rewards in bulimia nervosa

July 10, 2017
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered differences in how the brain responds to food rewards in individuals with a history of bulimia nervosa (BN), an eating disorder characterized ...

Anticipation helps pathological gamblers hold out for larger-but-later rewards

June 5, 2017
Triggering pathological gamblers to envision a future personal experience reduces their preference for an immediate reward over a larger, delayed award, according to a study published in eNeuro.

Mother's brain reward response to offspring reduced by substance addiction

July 27, 2017
Maternal addiction and its effects on children is a major public health problem, often leading to high rates of child abuse, neglect and foster care placement. In a study published today in the journal Human Brain Mapping, ...

Addicted individuals less responsive to reward-anticipation

February 2, 2017
It may be difficult for addicted individuals to learn when they can expect a reward. This learning problem could perhaps explain why they are more prone to addiction and find it difficult to kick the habit. Researchers at ...

Cocaine users make riskier decisions after losing a gamble

January 10, 2017
People addicted to cocaine make riskier decisions than healthy people after losing a potential reward, according to a study published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. In the study, senior ...

Cognitive-related neural pattern to activate machines

June 14, 2017
Brain-machine interfaces represent a solution for people with physical difficulties to communicate with their physical and social environment. In this work, researchers have identified a functional brain pattern in the prefrontal ...

Recommended for you

Researchers investigate changes in white matter in mice exposed to low-frequency brain stimulation

June 19, 2018
A team of researchers at the University of Oregon has learned more about the mechanism involved in mouse brain white matter changes as it responds to stimulation. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Left, right and center: mapping emotion in the brain

June 19, 2018
According to a radical new model of emotion in the brain, a current treatment for the most common mental health problems could be ineffective or even detrimental to about 50 percent of the population.

Cell type and environment influence protein turnover in the brain

June 19, 2018
Scientists have revealed that protein molecules in the brain are broken down and replaced at different rates, depending on where in the brain they are.

Often overlooked glial cell is key to learning and memory

June 18, 2018
Glial cells surround neurons and provide support—not unlike hospital staff and nurses supporting doctors to keep operations running smoothly. These often-overlooked cells, which include oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, ...

Electrically stimulating the brain may restore movement after stroke

June 18, 2018
UC San Francisco scientists have improved mobility in rats that had experienced debilitating strokes by using electrical stimulation to restore a distinctive pattern of brain cell activity associated with efficient movement. ...

Neuroscientists map brain's response to cold touch

June 18, 2018
Carnegie Mellon University neuroscientists have mapped the feeling of cool touch to the brain's insula in a mouse model. The findings, published in the June 15 issue of Journal of Comparative Neurology, provide an experimental ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.