An amygdala-cingulate network underpins changes in effort-based decision making after a fitness program
Javier Bernacer, Ivan Martinez-Valbuena, Martin Martinez, Nuria Pujol, Elkin O Luis, David Ramirez-Castillo, Maria A Pastor
When humans make decisions, objective rewards are mainly discounted by delay, risk and effort. Whereas recent research has demonstrated that several brain areas process costs and code subjective value in effort-based decision making, it remains obscure how neural activity patterns change when effort costs are reduced due to the acquisition of healthy habits, such as moving from sedentary to active lifestyles.
Here, a sample of sedentary volunteers was behaviorally assessed and fMRI-scanned before and after completing a 3-month fitness plan. The impact of effort cost on decisions, measured as the constant defining a hyperbolic decaying function, was reduced after the plan. A logistic mixed model demonstrated that the explanatory power of effort decreased with time. At a neural level, there was a marginally significant disruption of effort-cost related functional activity in the anterior cingulate after the plan. Functional connectivity between the amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex was strengthened after habit acquisition.
In turn, this interaction was stronger in those participants with lower effort discounting. Thus, we show for the first time changes in value-based decision making after moving from a sedentary to an active lifestyle, which points to the relevance of the amygdala-cingulate interplay when the impact of effort on decisions fades away.
CITATION Neuroimage. 2019 Dec;203:116181. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116181. Epub 2019 Sep 12.