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PET brain scans

Discounted Rewards

A person’s willingness to make immediate, risky, or costly decisions to earn a reward are linked to the brain’s response to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that motivates us to seek rewards. But dopamine levels vary from one individual to another, as seen in this series of PET brain scans that recently appeared on the cover of the Journal of Neuroscience. In a pair of large studies, graduate student Jaime Castrellon and assistant professor Gregory Samanez-Larkin found the connection between dopamine levels and ‘reward discounting’ depended on psychopathology, such as addiction, Parkinson’s Disease, and ADHD.