Adolescent novelty seeking is associated with greater ventral striatal and prefrontal brain response during evaluation of risk and reward

Amanda C. Del Giacco, Scott A. Jones, Angelica M. Morales, Dakota Kliamovich, Bonnie J. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a period during which reward sensitivity is heightened. Studies suggest that there are individual differences in adolescent reward-seeking behavior, attributable to a variety of factors, including temperament. This study investigated the neurobiological underpinnings of risk and reward evaluation as they relate to self-reported pleasure derived from novel experiences on the revised Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire (EATQ-R). Healthy participants (N = 265, ~50% male), aged 12-17 years, underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a modified Wheel of Fortune task, where they evaluated choices with varying probability of winning different monetary rewards. Across all participants, there was increased brain response in salience, reward, and cognitive control circuitry when evaluating choices with larger (compared with moderate) difference in risk/reward. Whole brain and a priori region-of-interest regression analyses revealed that individuals reporting higher novelty seeking had greater activation in bilateral ventral striatum, left middle frontal gyrus, and bilateral posterior cingulate cortex when evaluating the choices for largest difference in risk/reward. These novelty seeking associations with brain response were seen in the absence of temperament-related differences in decision-making behavior. Thus, while heightened novelty seeking in adolescents might be associated with greater neural sensitivity to risk/reward, accompanying increased activation in cognitive control regions might regulate reward-driven risk-taking behavior. More research is needed to determine whether individual differences in brain activation associated with novelty seeking are related to decision making in more ecologically valid settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Adolescence
  • Individual differences
  • Reward
  • Risk-taking
  • Temperament
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Adolescent novelty seeking is associated with greater ventral striatal and prefrontal brain response during evaluation of risk and reward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this