Brain regions involved in reward processing undergo developmental changes from childhood to adolescence, and alterations in reward-related brain function are thought to contribute to the development of psychopathology. Event-related potentials (ERPs), such as the reward positivity (RewP) component, are valid measures of reward responsiveness that are easily assessed across development and provide insight into temporal dynamics of reward processing. Little work has systematically examined developmental changes in ERPs sensitive to reward. In this longitudinal study of 75 youth assessed 3 times across 6 years, we used principal components analyses (PCA) to differentiate ERPs sensitive to monetary reward and loss feedback in late childhood, early adolescence, and middle adolescence. We then tested reliability of, and developmental changes in, ERPs. A greater number of ERP components differentiated reward and loss feedback in late childhood compared to adolescence, but components in childhood accounted for only a small proportion of variance. A component consistent with RewP was the only one to consistently emerge at each of the 3 assessments. RewP demonstrated acceptable reliability, particularly from early to middle adolescence, though reliability estimates varied depending on scoring approach and developmental period. The magnitude of the RewP component did not significantly change across time. Results provide insight into developmental changes in the structure of ERPs sensitive to reward, and indicate that RewP is a consistently observed and relatively stable measure of reward responsiveness, particularly across adolescence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)