Neural valuation of rewards and punishments in posttraumatic stress disorder: a computational approach

Ruonan Jia, Lital Ruderman, Robert H. Pietrzak, Charles Gordon, Daniel Ehrlich, Mark Horvath, Serena Mirchandani, Clara DeFontes, Steven Southwick, John H. Krystal, Ilan Harpaz-Rotem, Ifat Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with changes in fear learning and decision-making, suggesting involvement of the brain’s valuation system. Here we investigate the neural mechanisms of subjective valuation of rewards and punishments in combat veterans. In a functional MRI study, male combat veterans with a wide range of posttrauma symptoms (N = 48, Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, CAPS-IV) made a series of choices between sure and uncertain monetary gains and losses. Activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) during valuation of uncertain options was associated with PTSD symptoms, an effect which was consistent for gains and losses, and specifically driven by numbing symptoms. In an exploratory analysis, computational modeling of choice behavior was used to estimate the subjective value of each option. The neural encoding of subjective value varied as a function of symptoms. Most notably, veterans with PTSD exhibited enhanced representations of the saliency of gains and losses in the neural valuation system, especially in ventral striatum. These results suggest a link between the valuation system and the development and maintenance of PTSD, and demonstrate the significance of studying reward and punishment processing within subject.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalTranslational Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural valuation of rewards and punishments in posttraumatic stress disorder: a computational approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this