Sensation Seeking, the proclivity toward novel and stimulating experiences, is associated with greater left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) activity during uncertain reward expectancy. Here, we examined relationships between sensation seeking and vlPFC oscillatory dynamics using electroencephalography (EEG).
In 26 adolescents/young adults (16 female; 22.3 ± 1.7yrs), EEG was measured during uncertain reward expectancy. Event-related spectral perturbations (ERSP) from 15-80 Hz (beta/gamma bands) were compared as a function of uncertain reward expected value and assessed for relationships with feedback-related negativity (FRN) response to outcome feedback and response tendency measures of risk for BD.
Event-related synchronization (ERS) between 15-25 Hz (beta) over left vlPFC was sensitive to the expected value of uncertain reward (rho=0.46; p = 0.048), and correlated with sensation seeking (r = 0.49, p < 0.01) and feedback-related negativity (FRN), where greater beta ERS was related to larger FRN (r = -0.39, p = 0.047). FRN was also related to behavioral inhibition (r = 0.49, p < 0.01).
It is unknown whether results may extrapolate to clinical populations, given the healthy sample used here. Further, although we have confidence that the beta-band signal we measure in this study arises from left prefrontal cortex, we largely infer a left vlPFC source.
These findings highlight the role of left vlPFC in evaluation of immediate rewards. We now provide a link between reward expectancy-related left vlPFC activity and the well-characterized FRN, with a known role in attentive processing. These findings can guide treatment development for mania/hypomania at-risk individuals, including transcranial alternating current stimulation.

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