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Differential impact of social and monetary reward on procedural learning and consolidation in aging and its structural correlates

In young (n = 36, mean ± SD: 24.8 ± 4.5 years) and older (n = 34, mean ± SD: 65.1 ± 6.5 years) healthy participants, we employed a modified version of the Serial Reaction Time task to measure procedural learning (PL) and consolidation while providing monetary and social reward. Using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), we additionally determined the structural correlates of reward-related motor performance (RMP) and PL.
Monetary reward had a beneficial effect on PL in the older subjects only. In contrast, social reward significantly enhanced PL in the older and consolidation in the young participants (Fig. 1).

 

Doppler 2019

Figure 1. Sequence-specific learning effects of young and older subjects on day 1 and 2. Sequence-specific learning (SSL) effects are calculated by subtracting the mean of the median reaction time (RT) of sequence blocks s5 and s7 from the median RT of the random block r6 (day 1) or subtracting the median RT of the respective sequence block from the mean of the median RT of all random blocks (day 2). SSL effects are depicted for day 1 (A,B) and day 2 (C,D), young (A,C) and older (B,D) participants and all three feedback conditions: neutral feedback (green), social reward (blue), and monetary reward (red). Displayed are the means ± SEM. The asterisks denote significant differences between rewards: *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001.




VBM analyses revealed that motor performance related to monetary reward was associated with larger grey matter volume (GMV) of the left striatum in the young, and motor performance related to social reward with larger GMV of the medial orbitofrontal cortex in the older group (Fig. 2).
The differential effects of social reward in young (improved consolidation) and both social and monetary rewards in older (enhanced PL) healthy subjects point to the potential of rewards for interventions targeting aging-associated motor decline or stroke-induced motor deficits.
 

Doppler 2019

Figure 2. Region of interest (ROI) analysis of grey matter volume (GMV) differences between subjects grouped according to their reward-related motor performance (operationalized as the percentage of rewarded trials; third vs. first tercile). (A) Motor performance related to monetary reward (red) in young participants: left striatum (putamen). (B) Motor performance related to social reward (blue) in older participants: medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC). Displayed voxels survive FWE-correction within the ROIs (all pSVC < 0.05). All images are displayed on coronal (A) and sagittal (B) slices of the standard brain provided by MRIcron in neurological convention. x- and y-coordinates refer to the MNI-space (SVC, small volume corrected).

 

 

Publication:

Doppler, C. E. J., Meyer, L., Dovern, A., Stühmer-Beckh, J., Weiss, P. H., & Fink, G. R. (2019). Differential impact of social and monetary reward on procedural learning and consolidation in aging and its structural correlates. Frontiers in Aging, 11, 188.


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