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Regular version of the site

Article

Resting-State Theta Oscillations and Reward Sensitivity in Risk Taking

Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2021. Vol. 15.
Azanova M., Herrojo-Ruiz M. D., Belianin A. V., Klucharev V., Nikulin V.

Females demonstrate greater risk aversion than males on a variety of tasks, but

the underlying neurobiological basis is still unclear. We studied how theta (4–7 Hz)

oscillations at rest related to three different measures of risk taking. Thirty-five

participants (15 females) completed the Bomb Risk Elicitation Task (BRET), which

allowed us to measure risk taking during an economic game. The Domain-Specific Risk-

Taking Scale (DOSPERT) was used to measure self-assessed risk attitudes as well as

reward and punishment sensitivities. In addition, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS11)

was included to quantify impulsiveness. To obtain measures of frontal theta asymmetry

and frontal theta power, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) acquired prior to

task completion, while participants were at rest. Frontal theta asymmetry correlated

with average risk taking during the game but only in the female sample. By contrast,

frontal theta power correlated with risk taking as well as with measures of reward and

punishment sensitivity in the joint sample. Importantly, we showed that reward sensitivity

mediated a correlation between risk taking and the power of theta oscillations localized

to the anterior cingulate cortex. In addition, we observed significant sex differences

in source- and sensor-space theta power, risk taking during the game, and reward

sensitivity. Our findings suggest that sensitivity to rewards, associated with resting-state

theta oscillations in the anterior cingulate cortex, is a trait that potentially contributes to

sex differences in risk taking.