The Reward Positivity (RewP) is an event-related potential component with a delta band spectral representation that is elicited by reward receipt. Evidence suggests that RewP is modulated by both reward probability as well as affective valuation (“liking”). Here we determined whether RewP is a marker of enhanced hedonic salience of alcohol images in hazardous drinkers. We recruited 54 participants (Hazardous Drinkers = 28, Control = 26) who completed a reinforcement learning task with affective versus alcohol imagery during feedback. The learning task used images of puppies vs. alcohol paired with reinforcing feedback. Both groups rated categories of affective images (puppies, scenery, babies, neutral) similarly, but the hazardous drinking group rated alcohol significantly higher. There were no group differences in performance or in RewP amplitudes, even as a function of alcohol imagery. Contrary to prior findings, we did not observe a significant correlation between alcohol image rating and alcohol-specific RewP amplitude, although we did observe this relationship with the alcohol-specific delta band spectral representation of RewP. Within hazardous drinking group, there was significant correlation between hazardous drinking (AUDIT score) and alcohol-specific RewP indicating an inter-individual influence of drinking habits on affect specific RewP. These findings suggest a domain-specific enhancement of reward responsiveness in hazardous drinkers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Psychiatry and Mental health