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

Brainwaves show how exercising to music bends your mind

February 18, 2018
Headphones are a standard sight in gyms and we've long known research shows listening to tunes can be a game-changer for your run or workout.

To sleep, perchance to forget

February 17, 2018
The debate in sleep science has gone on for a generation. People and other animals sicken and die if they are deprived of sleep, but why is sleep so essential?

Lab-grown human cerebellar cells yield clues to autism

February 16, 2018
Increasing evidence has linked autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with dysfunction of the brain's cerebellum, but the details have been unclear. In a new study, researchers at Boston Children's Hospital used stem cell technology ...

Fragile X syndrome neurons can be restored, study shows

February 16, 2018
Fragile X syndrome is the most frequent cause of intellectual disability in males, affecting one out of every 3,600 boys born. The syndrome can also cause autistic traits, such as social and communication deficits, as well ...

Brain-machine interface study suggests how brains prepare for action

February 16, 2018
Somewhere right now in Pyeongchang, South Korea, an Olympic skier is thinking through the twists and spins she'll make in the aerial competition, a speed skater is visualizing how he'll sneak past a competitor on the inside ...

Humans blink strategically in response to environmental demands

February 16, 2018
If a brief event in our surroundings is about to happen, it is probably better not to blink during that moment. A team of researchers at the Centre for Cognitive Science from Technische Universität Darmstadt published a ...

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.