Motivation, reward and stress: individual difference and neural basis

Yuanyuan Xin

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

    867 Downloads (Pure)


    Stress is ubiquitous in our daily life. A normal response to stress signifies that an individual is able to meet both external and internal demands flexibly, whereas exaggerated or blunted stress responses are an indication of increased vulnerability to psychosomatic diseases. Therefore, it is important to explore factors related to different stress responses and interactions between stress and emotional or cognitive processes. The present thesis focuses on two aspects: vulnerability and protective factors related to acute stress responses; and the possible neural mechanisms underlying altered reward-motivation processing during stress.

    Results in this thesis showed that personality traits, recent life events and cognitive capability influence the intensity of individual acute stress responses. In addition, acute stress and intrinsic motivation were found to play a role in reward processing. Acute stress increases reward anticipation and decreases reward consumption in the brain. The trait motivation has an impact on reward intertemporal decision making, mediated by the intrinsic prefrontal functional coupling. These results suggest that an interactive and integrative process including motivation-reward function, emotion processing and cognitive control may be the underlying mechanism for individual difference in stress vulnerability and resilience.

    Studies in this thesis may help to elucidate the fundamental psychological and neural mechanisms of stress vulnerability and resilience beyond various phenotypic factors related to different stress responses, and further guide efforts towards prevention, management and treatment of stress disorders.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Aleman, Andre, Supervisor
    • Luo, Y, Supervisor, External person
    • Görlich, Katharina, Co-supervisor
    • Xu, Pengfei, Co-supervisor
    Award date24-Nov-2020
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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