This proposal requests funding support for a scientific meeting focused on Mechanisms of Motivation- Cognition-Aging Interactions. In the last decade, investigations of motivation have been revitalized by progress in cognitive, systems, and computational neuroscience as well as by social, affective, and personality psychology, that begin to elaborate the mechanisms by which motivation influences both lower-level information processing and higher-level goal-directed behaviors. Yet it is still the case that research in this area has been impeded by a lack of communication and integration among investigators working in various disciplines. In parallel, aging-focused research has also pointed to the role of motivation as a potentially integrative construct that may explain the contrasting profiles of age-related change in cognitive vs. socioemotional functioning. We suggest that the two integration goals are, in fact, synergistic. Specifically, a focus on age-related changes in psychological functioning may provide a unique window from which to integrate cognitive, neurobiological, and socio-emotional components of motivational influence. We propose to organize a scientific meeting that brings the leading researchers working at the forefront of motivation-cognition research together with aging researchers that have been explicitly adopting a motivation-oriented perspective in their work. The purpose of the meeting will be to provide an intimate and intensive forum from which to discuss the latest research, but more importantly to increase inter-disciplinary communication and collaboration between basic and aging-focused investigators from various research traditions. Following the conference, a special issue of the journal Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience (CABN) will disseminate and attract scientific attention to the topics covered in the meeting, with submissions coming from meeting participants and other solicited investigators. A capstone article in this issue will be a multi-authored "manifesto-type" piece, which lays out the most promising research questions and strategies that can be most productively investigated via inter-disciplinary teams of basic and aging researchers, thus facilitating the formation of such teams.
This project has high relevance for public health by advancing scientific knowledge regarding how motivations and goals change in older adults, and the implications of these changes for cognitive, social, and emotional functioning. An improved understanding of the relationship between motivation, emotion, cognition, and aging will be critically important in developing interventions that enhance older adults'decision-making and improve quality of life in the later years.