This project focuses on exploring the psychological and neural mechanisms that underlie the interaction of motivation and cognitive control, and how this interaction might be influenced by different dimensions of individual difference. Motivation may provide a basic mechanism of cognitive self-regulation. The primary hypothesis tested in this project is that cognitive and behavioral goals are activated, prioritized, and maintained according to their motivational value to the individual. Moreover, different affective and motivational states may have distinct influences on cognitive processing and cognitive control. The current proposal provides an innovative and theoretically-driven cognitive neuroscience approach towards this question, by examining three different affective/motivational dimensions - other-oriented (social) vs. self-oriented, intrinsic vs. extrinsic, and positive affect vs. reward-based motivation - in terms of their influence on the neural mechanisms of cognitive control. Specifically, in a large-sample neuroimaging study we will explore how differences between these motivational states impact behavior and brain activity dynamics during performance of a cognitive task with high control demands (cued task-switching). A key component of the project will be to comprehensively and rigorously examine the moderating influence of individual differences in theoretically relevant motivational traits. Clear-cut and theoretically-guided testable hypotheses are provided regarding how each motivational dimension might impact components of cognitive control, and the associated neural circuitry. This project promises to have substantial significance by filling an important gap in knowledge regarding the role of motivation as a basic mechanism of cognitive self-regulation. As such, this work may have long-term impact on educational and workplace practices, and treatments for debilitating clinical disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, ADHD, and substance abuse.

Public Health Relevance

This project has high relevance for public health by advancing scientific knowledge regarding the psychological and biological basis by which motivation influences information processing and behavior in a range of areas, including problem-solving, decision-making, memory and attention. An improved understanding of these influences will be of critical importance for developing better educational and workplace practices, and improving treatments of clinical and psychiatric disorders, including substance abuse.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BBBP-L (53))
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Rossi, Andrew
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Washington University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Saint Louis
United States
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Yee, Debbie M; Krug, Marie K; Allen, Ariel Z et al. (2015) Humans Integrate Monetary and Liquid Incentives to Motivate Cognitive Task Performance. Front Psychol 6:2037
Botvinick, Matthew; Braver, Todd (2015) Motivation and cognitive control: from behavior to neural mechanism. Annu Rev Psychol 66:83-113
Chiew, Kimberly S; Braver, Todd S (2014) Dissociable influences of reward motivation and positive emotion on cognitive control. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 14:509-29
Chiew, Kimberly S; Braver, Todd S (2013) Temporal dynamics of motivation-cognitive control interactions revealed by high-resolution pupillometry. Front Psychol 4:15
Braver, Todd S (2012) The variable nature of cognitive control: a dual mechanisms framework. Trends Cogn Sci 16:106-13