Studies on human monetary prediction and decision making emphasize the role of the striatum in encoding prediction errors for financial reward. However, less is known about how the brain encodes financial loss. Using Pavlovian conditioning of visual cues to outcomes that simultaneously incorporate the chance of financial reward and loss, we show that striatal activation reflects positively signed prediction errors for both. Furthermore, we show functional segregation within the striatum, with more anterior regions showing relative selectivity for rewards and more posterior regions for losses. These findings mirror the anteroposterior valence-specific gradient reported in rodents and endorse the role of the striatum in aversive motivational learning about financial losses, illustrating functional and anatomical consistencies with primary aversive outcomes such as pain.
fMRI - a, Aversive prediction error, right ventral striatum This contrast also revealed a peak in the right anterior insula. b, Reward prediction error, right ventral striatum. Yellow corresponds to c, Sagittal view showing the two peaks, reward (green) and aversive (red).