Navigation Links
The brain's motivation station

The prospect of a paycheck, good grade, or promotion wonderfully concentrates the mind, and researchers have now identified the brain circuitry responsible for such reward-motivated learning.

In an article in the May 4, 2006, Neuron, Alison Adcock and colleagues report brain-scanning studies in humans that reveal how specific reward-related brain regions "alert" the brain's learning and memory regions to promote memory formation.

In their studies, the researchers asked volunteers to participate in two types of reward-related tasks as they scanned the subjects' brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In this technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to detect regions of higher blood flow in the brain, which reflects higher activity.

In the first task, the researchers aimed at identifying the region involved in anticipating rewards. This task involved presenting the subjects with such symbols as circles or squares that indicated an amount of money the subjects could gain or lose--from no money to $5--by rapidly responding to a subsequently presented target by pressing a button. The subjects were notified immediately whether they had received the reward. The researchers found that reward anticipation activated specific brain structures in the "mesolimbic" region involved in the processing of emotions.

In the second task, the researchers sought to measure how this reward center promoted memory formation. They first showed subjects a "value" symbol that signified whether the image of a scene that followed would yield $5 or ten cents if they remembered it the next day. Then they showed the subjects the scene, and the next day tested their ability to pick the scene out of a group.

The researchers found that the subjects were far more likely to remember high-value scenes than low-value scenes. Importantly, they found that the cues to the high-reward scenes that were later remembered--but not those scenes later forgotten--activated the reward areas of the mesolimbic region as well as the learning-related hippocampus in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) of the brain. Activation prior to scene visualization suggests that the brain actually prepares in advance to filter incoming information rather than simply reacting to the world. Activation of the MTL is associated with higher brain functions, including learning and memory, and subjects who showed greater activation in these regions also showed better memory performance, found Adcock and colleagues.

The researchers concluded that the learning mechanism they identified "may let an organism's expectations and motivation interact with events in the physical world to influence learning. Thus, anticipatory activation of this mesolimbic circuit may help translate motivation into memory."


Source:Cell Press

Related biology news :

1. NYU study reveals how brains immune system fights viral encephalitis
2. Deep sleep short-circuits brains grid of connectivity
3. Thinking the pain away? Study shows the brains painkillers may cause placebo effect
4. Endocannabinoids ?the brains cannabis ?demonstrate novel modes of action to stress
5. Animal models show that anabolic steroids flip the adolescent brains switch for aggression
6. Both alcoholism and chronic smoking can damage the brains prefrontal cortex
7. Tiny RNA molecules fine-tune the brains synapses
8. Aggression-related gene weakens brains impulse control circuits
9. Oops! Researchers publish new findings on the brains response to costly mistakes
10. Flick of whiskers helps tease out brains shadow signaling system
11. The brains executive is an event planner
Post Your Comments:

(Date:10/13/2015)... MATEO, Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015 ... real-time, machine-based learning to analyze big data and minimize ... today with Emailage , an innovative fraud prevention ... leverage transactional risk based on a user,s email address. ... a machine learning solution that combines email risk assessment ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... 13, 2015 Dragon Capital Group Corp. ... China , announced today that its wholly ... received a contract for Multi-Format Naked Eye 3D System for ... $450,000 for the project that is expected to be completed ... 35% in gross profits. --> ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 7, 2015 Research and ... the "India Biometrics Authentication & Identification Market - ... --> --> ... $823.46 million in 2014 to $2.06 billion in 2020 ... 2020. India . Growing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/13/2015)... ... , ... The shortlist of finalists for the Pistoia Alliance President’s Startup Challenge ... from across Europe and the USA. , The Startup Challenge 2015 has seen startup ... in life sciences R&D, with over 30 entries submitted. A panel of expert judges ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , ... October 13, 2015 , ... ... Universal SuperHeat Controller/Sensor (USHX) product, launches today on the Android smartphone platform. Southern ... system with DMQ’s remote control and monitoring capability for the first time to ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... , Oct. 13, 2015  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... and Cocoon Biotech, Inc. are Amgen,s 2015 selection for ... space at LabCentral. LabCentral is an innovative, shared laboratory ... startups. Cambridge, Mass. ... ways to deliver potential life-changing therapies. --> ...
(Date:10/13/2015)... SUNNYVALE, Calif. , Oct. 13, 2015  Cepheid ... the quarter ending September 30, 2015. ... financial results, total revenue for the third quarter of ... net loss per share is expected to be approximately ... financial results, non-GAAP net loss per share for the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: