Does intrinsic reward motivate cognitive control? a naturalistic-fMRI study based on the synchronization theory of flow

Richard Huskey, Britney Craighead, Michael B. Miller, René Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive control is a framework for understanding the neuropsychological processes that underlie the successful completion of everyday tasks. Only recently has research in this area investigated motivational contributions to control allocation. An important gap in our understanding is the way in which intrinsic rewards associated with a task motivate the sustained allocation of control. To address this issue, we draw on flow theory, which predicts that a balance between task difficulty and individual ability results in the highest levels of intrinsic reward. In three behavioral and one functional magnetic resonance imaging studies, we used a naturalistic and open-source video game stimulus to show that changes in the balance between task difficulty and an individual’s ability to perform the task resulted in different levels of intrinsic reward, which is associated with different brain states. Specifically, psychophysiological interaction analyses show that high levels of intrinsic reward associated with a balance between task difficulty and individual ability are associated with increased functional connectivity between key structures within cognitive control and reward networks. By comparison, a mismatch between task difficulty and individual ability is associated with lower levels of intrinsic reward and corresponds to increased activity within the default mode network. These results suggest that intrinsic reward motivates cognitive control allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-924
Number of pages23
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Cognitive control
  • Flow
  • fMRI
  • Intrinsic reward
  • Motivation
  • Open source video game
  • Synchronization theory

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Does intrinsic reward motivate cognitive control? a naturalistic-fMRI study based on the synchronization theory of flow'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this