Neural Systems of Motivation


The neuroscientific basis of motivation has been studied for more than half a century and remains a vast and complex topic. Learning theory provides information about the psychological mechanisms underlying motivated action; this, together with economic perspectives on utility calculation, provides a basis for the neuroscientific analysis of motivational systems. Neural structures involved in determining motivational state, in assessing the value of the outcomes of behavior and choosing between them, and in encoding action–outcome relationships are described, along with structures and neuromodulators that provide conditioned motivation and vigor to behavior, and assist in overcoming response costs.