Dopamine and reward-related vigor in younger and older adults

Emily J. Hird, Ulrik Beierholm, Lieke De Boer, Jan Axelsson, Lars Backman, Marc Guitart-Masip*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Vigor reflects how motivated people are to respond to stimuli. We previously showed that, on average, humans are more vigorous when a higher rate of reward is available, and that this relationship is modulated by the dopamine precursor levodopa. Dopamine signaling and probabilistic reward learning deteriorate across the adult life span, and thus, the relationship between vigor and reward may also change in aging. We tested this assertion and assessed whether it correlates with D1 dopamine receptor availability, measured using Positron Emission Tomography. We registered response times of 30 older and 30 younger participants during an oddball discrimination task where rewards varied systematically between trials. The average reward rate had a similar impact on vigor in both age groups. There was a weak positive association between ventral striatal dopamine receptor availability and the effect of average reward rate on response time. Overall, the effect of reward on response vigor was similar in younger and older adults, and weakly correlated with dopamine D1 receptor availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Aging
  • Dopamine
  • Reward
  • Vigor


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