Mixed findings exist in studies comparing brain responses to reward in adolescents and adults. Here we examined the trajectories of brain response, functional connectivity and task-modulated network properties during reward processing with a large-sample longitudinal design. Participants from the IMAGEN study performed a Monetary Incentive Delay task during fMRI at timepoint 1 (T1; n = 1304, mean age=14.44 years old) and timepoint 2 (T2; n = 1241, mean age=19.09 years). The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) was administrated at both T1 and T2 to assess a participant's alcohol use during the past year. Voxel-wise linear mixed effect models were used to compare whole brain response as well as functional connectivity of the ventral striatum (VS) during reward anticipation (large reward vs no-reward cue) between T1 and T2. In addition, task-modulated networks were constructed using generalized psychophysiological interaction analysis and summarized with graph theory metrics. To explore alcohol use in relation to development, participants with no/low alcohol use at T1 but increased alcohol use to hazardous use level at T2 (i.e., participants with AUDIT≤2 at T1 and ≥8 at T2) were compared against those with consistently low scores (i.e., participants with AUDIT≤2 at T1 and ≤7 at T2). Across the whole sample, lower brain response during reward anticipation was observed at T2 compared with T1 in bilateral caudate nucleus, VS, thalamus, midbrain, dorsal anterior cingulate as well as left precentral and postcentral gyrus. Conversely, greater response was observed bilaterally in the inferior and middle frontal gyrus and right precentral and postcentral gyrus at T2 (vs. T1). Increased functional connectivity with VS was found in frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital regions at T2. Graph theory metrics of the task-modulated network showed higher inter-regional connectivity and topological efficiency at T2. Interactive effects between time (T1 vs. T2) and alcohol use group (low vs. high) on the functional connectivity were observed between left middle temporal gyrus and right VS and the characteristic shortest path length of the task-modulated networks. Collectively, these results demonstrate the utility of the MID task as a probe of typical brain response and network properties during development and of differences in these features related to adolescent drinking, a reward-related behaviour associated with heightened risk for future negative health outcomes.
- Monetary Incentive Delay task
- Neural development
- Reward system
- Task-modulated network