Validation of a child-friendly version of the monetary incentive delay task

Sarah M. Helfinstein, Michael L. Kirwan, Brenda E. Benson, Michael G. Hardin, Daniel S. Pine, Monique Ernst, Nathan A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The monetary incentive delay (MID) task (Knutson, 2000) is an imaging paradigm used to measure neural activity of incentive receipt anticipation. The task reliably elicits striatal activation and is commonly used with both adult and adolescent populations, but is not designed for use with children. In the current article, we present data on the newly designed 'pi ~nata task' a child-friendly analog of the MID task. We demonstrate the task can be used successfully in children to study the neural correlates of anticipatory incentive processing. Results from a behavioral study and a neuroimaging study are reported. In Study #1, a sample of 8- to 14-year-old children demonstrates expected behavioral effects: subjects responded most quickly and most accurately on trials with greater potential rewards; older children displayed faster reaction times than younger. In Study #2, 8- to 12-year-old children showed neural activation patterns consistent with those seen in adults in the MID task: activation was modulated by cue incentive value in reward-processing regions, including the striatum, thalamus, mesial prefrontal cortex and insula. Study results suggest that the pi ~nata task is a valid analog of the MID task, and can be used to assess neural correlates of reward processing in children as young as 8-9 years of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-726
Number of pages7
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood
  • Reward
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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