Associative learning affects many areas of human behavior. Recently, we showed that the neural response to monetary reward is enhanced by performing an action, suggesting interactions between neural systems controlling motor behavior and reward processing. Given many psychiatric disorders are associated with social anhedonia, a key open question is whether such effects generalize to social rewards, and in how far they affect associative learning. We developed a novel task in which participants (n = 66) received social reward feedback and social punishment either by pressing a button or waiting. Predictive cues were linked to feedback valence with 80% accuracy. Using EEG, we measured the neural response to both predictive cues and social feedback. We found enhanced reward positivity for social reward preceded by an action, and an enhanced N2 for cues predicting negative feedback. Cue-locked P3 amplitude was reduced for cues associated with negative feedback in passive trials only, showing a modulation of outcome anticipation by performing a motor action. This was supported by connectivity analyses showing stronger directed theta synchronization, in line with increased top–down modulation of attention, in active compared with passive trials. These findings suggest that actively obtaining social feedback enhances reward sensitivity and modulates outcome anticipation.

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