Elaborative feedback: Engaging reward and task-relevant brain regions promotes learning in pseudoword reading aloud

Samantha R. Mattheiss, Edward J. Alexander, William W. Graves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Although much is known about the cognitive and neural basis of establishing letter-sound mappings in learning word forms, relatively little is known about what makes for the most effective feedback during this process. We sought to determine the neural basis by which elaborative feedback (EF), which contains both reward-related and content-specific information, may be more helpful than feedback containing only one kind of information (simple positive feedback, PF) or the other (content feedback, CF) in learning orthography-phonology (spelling-sound) mappings for novel letter strings. Compared to CF, EF activated the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, implicated in reward processing. Compared to PF, EF activated the posterior middle temporal, superior temporal, and supramarginal gyri—regions implicated in orthography-phonology conversion. In the same comparison, EF also activated the left fusiform gyrus/visual word form area—implicated in orthographic processing. Also EF, but not CF or PF, modulated activity in the caudate nucleus. In a postscan questionnaire, EF and PF were rated as more pleasant than CF, suggesting that modulation of the caudate for EF may be due to the coupling of reward and skill content. These findings suggest the enhanced effectiveness of EF may be due to concurrent activation of reward-related and task-relevant brain regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-87
Number of pages20
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Feedback
  • Orthography
  • Phonology
  • Reading
  • Reward


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