Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Promise of a bonus counter-productive in brains with high dopamine levels

Date:
February 13, 2014
Source:
Radboud University Nijmegen
Summary:
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the amount of dopamine in the brain plays a role in how people perform when promised a high bonus.

Researchers at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen have demonstrated for the first time that the amount of dopamine in the brain plays a role in how people perform when promised a high bonus. The journal Psychological Science will publish the results on February 13.

Related Articles


It has been known for some time that not everyone performs better after being promised a bonus. Scientists have published contradictory results regarding the cause. The study by Esther Aarts now shows that the differences can be explained by differences in the level of dopamine in the brain. People with a high level of dopamine in a specific brain region -- the striatum -- perform worse after a being promised a bonus, and people with a low level of dopamine in the same area perform better. Aarts used a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanner to examine the amount of dopamine in the brains of subjects. She conducted this research in Berkeley, California (USA), where she worked as a post-doctoral researcher for two years.

Overdose of dopamine The promise of a bonus provides an additional spurt of the 'motivation substance' dopamine in the brain. 'For people who usually have high levels of dopamine, the promise of a bonus causes a type of dopamine overdose in the striatum', explains Aarts. 'Our test subjects were asked to perform a task that required considerable concentration. An overdose of dopamine makes this difficult. People who usually have less dopamine are less likely to have an overdose of dopamine, and they therefore perform better after being promised a bonus.'

Concentration desired Test subjects performed a computer task that elicited conflicting reactions, therefore requiring considerable concentration: an arrow appears on the screen, pointing either left or right. The word 'left' or 'right' is written in the middle of the arrow. Subjects were asked to ignore the direction indicated by the arrow and mention only the direction described by the word. For half of the attempts, a bonus of 15 cents was promised for a correct answer. In the other half, the subjects received only 1 cent for each correct answer. People who usually have a high level of dopamine performed better in the low-pay condition than they did in the high-pay condition. The reverse was observed for people with low levels of dopamine: they performed better with high rewards than they did with low rewards.

Flexibility or focus 'This knowledge could make it possible to apply bonuses more effectively, but it would require observing the standard dopamine levels of people, as well as the nature of the task that they must perform', reports Aarts. 'It makes quite a difference whether the task is flexible and creative or whether it requires a great deal of focus. Our research shows how people perform on tasks that require considerable focus'. Given the high cost of PET scans, Aarts is now looking for easier ways of measuring dopamine levels. 'I hope to be able to relate dopamine levels to scores on questionnaires. In the future, this might eliminate the need for PET scans for determining the quantity of dopamine in the brain'.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Radboud University Nijmegen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Aarts, D. L. Wallace, L. C. Dang, W. J. Jagust, R. Cools, M. D'Esposito. Dopamine and the Cognitive Downside of a Promised Bonus. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613517240

Cite This Page:

Radboud University Nijmegen. "Promise of a bonus counter-productive in brains with high dopamine levels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213122257.htm>.
Radboud University Nijmegen. (2014, February 13). Promise of a bonus counter-productive in brains with high dopamine levels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213122257.htm
Radboud University Nijmegen. "Promise of a bonus counter-productive in brains with high dopamine levels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140213122257.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

1st Responders Trained for Autism Sensitivity

AP (Dec. 16, 2014) More departments are ordering their first responders to sit in on training sessions that focus on how to more effectively interact with those with autism spectrum disorder (Dec. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Guys Are Idiots, According To Sarcastic Study

Newsy (Dec. 12, 2014) A study out of Britain suggest men are more idiotic than women based on the rate of accidental deaths and other factors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

Believing in Father Christmas Good for Children's Imaginations

AFP (Dec. 12, 2014) As the countdown to Christmas gets underway, so too does the Father Christmas conspiracy. But psychologists say that telling our children about Santa, flying reindeer and elves is good for their imaginations. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins