Research Topic

Motivation-Cognition Interaction: From Neurocognitive Models to Clinical Applications

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The impact of motivation on cognitive functions has been extensively studied from the beginning of experimental and social psychology. More recently, cognitive neuroscience research has significantly advanced our understanding of the reward system, leading to the development of new neuro-cognitive models ...

The impact of motivation on cognitive functions has been extensively studied from the beginning of experimental and social psychology. More recently, cognitive neuroscience research has significantly advanced our understanding of the reward system, leading to the development of new neuro-cognitive models addressing motivation-cognition interaction. These models agree in the assumption that motivation influences cognitive performance via dopaminergic modulation of cortical and subcortical structures like the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and parietal cortex.

Because these neural structures are subject to both structural and functional decline during aging, recent studies have investigated the motivation-cognition interaction mechanisms in healthy older adults. At the same time, investigations in clinical conditions where these neural structures can be significantly compromised (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, depressive and bipolar disorders, and eating disorders) have been also conducted. What has emerged from these studies is that both age-related and pathological modulation of reward system functionality can bring about significant changes in the mechanisms of motivation-cognition interaction. In older adults, these changes can result in different cognitive and behavioral patterns, when compared with young adults. In clinical populations, they can contribute to the development of cognitive and/or behavioral disorders.

We believe that this recent set of evidence highlights a crucial development of this field, showing the possibility to apply the knowledge gained from basic research into a translational and clinical context. Based on data collected in healthy populations, neuro-cognitive models of motivation-cognition interaction could be extremely useful for the development of new cognitive training procedures aimed at improving cognitive functions and quality of life of healthy older adults. At the same, the application of these same models in the clinical settings could significantly improve both diagnostic tools and treatment procedures in several pathological conditions.

The goal of the present Research Topic is to provide an opportunity by which different research groups, investigating the interaction between motivation and cognition from multiple perspectives, can present the latest findings in this field focusing on their application in the promotion of healthy aging and/or in the diagnosis and treatment of pathological conditions.

We welcome contributions from cognitive and clinical neuropsychology, clinical psychology and psychiatry, as well as from cognitive and computational neuroscience. Original research articles, Brief Research Reports, Case Reports and Clinical Trials are welcome, as well as General Commentaries, Hypothesis and Theory articles, Opinion and Perspective articles.

The different background of the contributors, as well as the different methodologies employed in the studies presented, are intended to highlight the importance of a multi- and inter-disciplinary approach in this research field. We are certain that the described Research Topic will be of great interest to researchers of multiple fields, and will have the potential to instigate and shape new exciting collaborations.


Keywords: motivation, reward, emotion, cognitive control, neuropsychology, psychopathology


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