The neural correlates of reinforcement sensitivity theory: a systematic review of the (f)MRI literature

Standen, B. ORCID: 0000-0002-6615-063X, Firth, J., Sumich, A. ORCID: 0000-0003-4333-8442 and Heym, N. ORCID: 0000-0003-2414-8854, 2022. The neural correlates of reinforcement sensitivity theory: a systematic review of the (f)MRI literature. Psychology and Neuroscience. ISSN 1983-3288

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Objectives: Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory (RST) is a theory of motivation, emotion and learning, that has been translated into an account of personality. RST proposes neural structures that form the basis of systems responsible for reward (BAS), punishment (FFFS) and conflict processing (BIS). This systematic review collated studies examining psychometric measures of RST alongside structural and function MRI data to (i) examine how psychometric RST is associated with the proposed neural topologies of RST, (ii) identify any common associations between psychometric RST and other brain regions, and (iii) provide recommendations for advancing the current literature base.

Methods: Initial search terms identified 10952 papers. After processing, 39 papers that investigated the association between RST scales and neural functioning in healthy adult samples were included in this review.

Results: There was general support for associations between the BAS and the structure/activity of the pre-frontal cortex and ventral striatum with some additional findings for the ventral pallidum and ventral tegmental area. There was also some support for associations between BIS/FFFS and structure/activity of frontal regions, cingulate cortices and the amygdala.

Conclusions: Overall, psychometric correlates of RST were associated with activity in proposed neural circuitry, with the most consistent support being found for the BAS; however, psychometric and experimental limitations still hamper the differentiation of the BIS and FFFS systems in their activation of deeper brain networks. Future studies need to include revised RST scales that separate the BIS and FFFS and implement more rigorous tasks that allow for the examination of each system both independently and codependently.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Psychology and Neuroscience
Creators: Standen, B., Firth, J., Sumich, A. and Heym, N.
Publisher: American Psychological Association (APA)
Date: 14 February 2022
ISSN: 1983-3288
Rights: ©American Psychological Association, 2022. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 08 Nov 2022 15:03
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2022 15:03

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