Intrinsic Motivation and its Neural Correlates
Sammanfattning: Why is motivation important? The answer is simple to most of us: it is what makes people push forward and act. Intrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation that arises from within a person, making her or him strive towards a goal for no other reward than the feeling it will bring. Additionally, this kind of motivation has shown correlations with enhanced learning, creativity, performance, optimal development, and well-being. While intrinsic motivation has long been a topic within the field of psychology, the neural correlates underlying it have only recently become of interest for researchers, and studies have shown some interesting but also contradictory findings. Therefore, the aim of this literature review thesis is to investigate the neural correlates of intrinsic motivation further. Firstly, a background review of motivation in general and intrinsic motivation in particular is presented, focusing on concepts such as the self-determination theory, flow, and cognitive evaluation theory. This is followed by a chapter on motivation- and intrinsic motivation from a neuroscientific perspective, concerning concepts such as the reward system, the undermining effect, and studies examining the neural correlates of intrinsic motivation. These studies show that there was activity in several different areas when participants were intrinsically motivated. However, a frequent pattern of activity in dopaminergic pathways involving the striatum and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was detected in most studies, indicating the involvement of these areas in particular when a person is intrinsically motivated.
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