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Published May 2010 | public
Journal Article

Human Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex Is Recruited During Experience of Imagined and Real Rewards


Human decision-making frequently relies on mental simulation of future rewards to guide action choice. In this study, we sought to uncover brain regions engaged during reward imagery and to address whether these regions functionally overlap with regions activated by tangible rewards. We found that medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) is engaged both for real and imagined rewards and is preferentially engaged for imagery with rewarding content compared with other nonrewarding imagery. These findings support a critical role for mOFC in the representation of rewarding goal states, even if hypothetical.

Additional Information

© 2010 The American Physiological Society. Submitted 28 November 2009; accepted in final form 24 February 2010. First published March 3, 2010. We thank the staff at the Caltech Brain Imaging Center. This research was funded by the Shimojo Japan Science and Technology- Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology Implicit Brain Function project, a Searle scholarship to J. P. O'Doherty, and a Dana foundation grant to J. P. O'Doherty.

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