Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. J. Bruce Morton


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the neural and behavioural correlates of learning from rewards and losses in children. Greater blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) responses in the ventral striatum (VS) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) were found when participants received rewards compared to when they missed out on an opportunity to receive rewards. In contrast, greater BOLD responses in the anterior insula (AI) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) were found when participants received losses compared to when they avoided losing. The BOLD response to rewards in the VS and VMPFC correlated positively with the tendency to select rewards. Greater incidence of early life adversity was associated with greater likelihood to select rewarding stimuli and a larger BOLD response in the VS and VMPFC to rewards. Findings suggest that the functional calibration of the mesocorticolimbic pathway is sensitive to the experience of early life adversity.