Sunday, September 12, 2010
how we motivate ourselves
A crucial part of the brain's representation of goals is their association with rewards and punishments. When you accomplish a goal, you experience a pleasurable reward through the activity of neural populations in areas such as the orbitofrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. Even the anticipation of such accomplishment can produce a reward, as when you imagine yourself completing a major project. Goal accomplishment is thus like other rewarding experiences that offer pleasure in expectation as well as in realization. For example, thinking of the piece of chocolate cake you will have for dessert is not as rewarding as actually having the cake, but it is pleasurable nevertheless. Such anticipation of reward serves to motivate people to perform the actions that are required to accomplish the desired goal.