Motivation and


Motivation and the Brain John H. Ackerson Motivational Processes in Human Psychology PSY/355 Emeka Wolfe-Norman February 14, 2010 University of Phoenix

Motivation and


Motivation and the Brain Introduction The motivating factors that compel one to do what one does is conceivably the most important aspect of contemporary psychological study; the study of addiction is perhaps the most important domain with regard to the study of social interactivity, the thought process, and motivation (Silventar, 2010). A number of factors influence the brain structures and functions associated with the motivation to refrain from using drugs. The dynamics involved include intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, heredity, and environmental forces. In general, internal motivation is considered to be associated with long-term behavior modification, whereas the successful outcome of external motivation can be short lived (Pubs.niaaa.nih, 2010). Motivational assessment suggests a considerable challenge. To bring about a transformation of behavior, one must consider the individual’s internal point of view and beliefs, as well as his or her external forces and inducements. Although environmental and biological factors play a role in the desire to refrain from using drugs, the structures and functions of the brain related to motivation play an enormous role in one’s ability to do so; therefore, the approach must be multidimensional, with regard to these factors. Brain Structures and Functions New insights into the structures of the brain and their functions that reinforce the chronic use of drugs in those who wish to refrain from using have been provided by imaging studies that show the role of dopamine (DA) in addiction (Volkow, Fowler, Wang, Swanson, & Telang, 2007). Theses studies provide evidence of not only the reinforcing effects of DA in the forebrain, “in front of and around the thalamus in each cerebral hemisphere [and] the afferent part of the

Motivation and


basal ganglia mainly involved in movement planning and control and habit” (Striatum, 2009, para. 1), but also in the proportion of DA being distributed to the nucleus accumbens (Nucleus accumbens, 2009), either of the two masses of opiate receptors and neural bodies in the vicinity of the septum pellucidum. This is a dopamine channel that is implicated in reinforcement and reward, and is believed to be involved in nearly all addictions. The more rapid the increase of DA, the higher the intensity and effects of reinforcement (Volkow, et al, 2007). In addition, high levels of DA present within the dorsal stratum are related to the motivation to gain access to the addict’s drug of choice when he or she is exposed to stimuli that is associated with his or her drug of choice. Contrary to the preceding scenario, a decrease in DA functioning appears to be associated with long-term use of one’s drug of choice; this reduction in D2-DA receptors has been linked to a decrease in the orbitofrontal cortex that is concerned with compulsory behavior, motivation, and salience attribution (Goldstein & Volkow, 2002); furthermore, reductions in D2-DA nerve endings receptive to stimuli in the striatum and the cingulate gyrus, which is involved in impulsivity and inhibition, become deregulated and the result is the uncontrollable drug use that distinguishes addiction (Volkow, et al, 2007). The results of imaging studies indicate that the inability to refrain from using drugs is the consequence of cerebral regulation that causes one to place an elevated, unrealistic value on drug reinforcers, a deficiency in the value of surrogate reinforcers, and a deficit in the neural process that inhibits the control of drug responses (Goldstein & Volkow, 2002). This impaired response inhibition and salience attribution (IRISA) alters one’s addiction in a manner that was, until recently, believed to be unknown, and expands on the long-established hypothesis of dependency that underscores the importance of the

Motivation and


regulating response of the limbic-system to pleasure and reward as the primary source for one’s inability to refrain from using drugs. Extrinsic factors The desire to refrain from using drugs, with regard to extrinsic factors, involves motivations that may be unrelated to the task at hand (Florida International University, 2009). An example of extrinsic motivation may include obtaining a job that requires one to be “clean;” the external reward would be money; however, coercion, intimidation, duress, force, punishment, and obligation also can be considered extrinsic motivation (Sung & Choi, 2009). If the individual desirers to refrain from using drugs, and he or she is in a situation in which another is in control via incarceration, in-house treatment facility, or some other form of internment, the effectiveness of the extrinsic motivation is enhanced; however, there are serious drawbacks with regard to long-term success because of the high probability of resentment, conflict, and subversion (Farris State University, 2009). Motivational studies by Alfie Kohn (Alexander Kjerulf, 2006) have provided evidence that demonstrates the unsustainability of extrinsic motivation. Kohn established that the result of the punishment and reward system is inevitably counterproductive; although it may be successful in the short term, motivation rapidly diminishes if the rewards are not increased and frquent. Finally, extrinsic motivation, as the underlying principle for abstaining from drug use, can impair intrinsic motivation by eradicating the addicts innate desire to take the action on his, or her, own volition; from that point on, one must be punished or rewarded each time they either use or refrain from the use of drugs (Alexander Kjerulf, 2006).

Intrinsic Factors

Motivation and


The intrinsic factors that influence one’s desire to refrain from using drugs vary. The inherent nature of the act of taking drugs is the desire to “feel good.” Whatever the imbalance or need, the arousal action is to engage in the use of one’s drug of choice. The intrinsic nature of the desire to refrain from using one’s drug of choice is the same. The motivation to “use” is based on one’s needs; those needs produce a behavior that derives satisfaction (Analytic Technologies, 2009). When those needs are satisfied in one who is not addicted, one can then progress to other wants or needs that become primary; however, with the addicted individual those needs can become intensified and static As the use of drugs spirals out of control, intrinsic factors are energized as internal desires; the desire to abstain from drug use is the internal desire to “perform a particular task” (Florida International University, 2009, para. 1), The internal desire to be a part of requires one to develop certain skills like attending social activities, becoming gainfully employed, and mastering behavior that is socially acceptable. The desire to refrain from using drugs, as with any intrinsic desire, must begin with the fulfillment of psychological needs that ensure survival; these needs are, according to Maslow, known as deficiency needs. Deficiency needs can only be realized via external sources originating in the environment, by way of other people, or by transmissible influences (Florida International University, 2009); however, intrinsic motivation can only occur once those needs are met, and when the desire to refrain is coupled with environmental factors that elicit the motivation required for change (Farris State University, 2009). Factors of the Environment and Heredity The predisposing factors involved in the desire to refrain from using drugs involves heredity and environmental issues such as social factors that include religion, economics, availability, the

Motivation and


cost of one’s drug of choice, occupation, culture, and traditions (Ganfyd, 2009). Other factors that may aid or obstruct one’s desire to refrain from drug use are personality factors, as explicate in the big five theory (DeYoung, Quilty, & Peterson, 2007). Social acceptance plays a key role in one’s choice to stop using a particular drug, including peer group pressure and the media. Genetics’ role in addiction and one’s ability to refrain from using drugs is evident in a number of studies that show a higher concordance for addiction in monozygotic twins (MZ) than Dizygotic Twins (DZ) (Ganfyd, 2009); however, according to the National Library of Medicine, (2006), the correlation “cannot be attributed to underlying genetic or shared environmental factors that influence both personality and [drug] use and must be explained by unique environmental influences” (National Library of Medicine, 2006, para 1). The brain structures and functions implicated in the motivation to engage in refraining from using drugs involve the reinforcing effects of DA in the forebrain, the afferent part of the basal ganglia concerned with control and habit, and two masses of opiate receptors and neural bodies in the vicinity of the septum pellucidum. The motivation to refrain from drug use can be extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation rewards or punishes; however, the long-term success of extrinsic motivation is dubious. The intrinsic nature of one’s desire to refrain from using drugs is more successful but must begin with the fulfillment of deficiency needs; once this has occurred, the desire to refrain combined with the need to fulfill obligations to self, context, and environment generate the motivation required for change. Environmental and heredity issues also influence one’s desire to refrain from using drugs. These factors include social and cultural values, occupation, and traditions. Genetics plays a role as a factor in addiction; however, the correlation has been shown to be limited to specific common environmental factors that produce both character and behavior. The desire to refrain from using drugs is a choice that is not made

Motivation and


flippantly. The gravity of the commitment requires change from within if one is to maintain permanence. The key to success, if one is to refrain from using drugs, is motivation; the key to motivation is action.

Motivation and References Alexander Kjerulf. (2006). Why “Motivation by Pizza” Doesn’t Work. Retrieved from Analytic Technologies. (2009). Theories of Motivation. Retrieved from DeYoung, C., Quilty, L., & Peterson, J. (2007). Between facets and domains: 10 aspects of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(5), 880-896. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.93.5.880. Farris State University. (2009). Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Motivation. Retrieved from

8 htm Florida International University. (2009). Intrinsic/Extrinsic motivation and Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://this causes you to do certain things (behavior), which satisfy those needs (satisfaction), and this can then change which needs/wants are primary (either intensifying certain ones, or allowing you to move on to other ones). Ganfyd. (2009). Alcohol. Retrieved from title=Alcohol#Medicinal_Uses_of_Alcohol Goldstein, R. Z. & Volkow, D. (2002). Drug addiction and its underlying neurobiological basis: Neuroimaging evidence for the involvement of the frontal cortex. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(10), 1642-52. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 208003181).

Motivation and References National Library of Medicine. (2006). Personality differences in monozygotic twins discordant for cannabis use.. Retrieved from Nucleus accumbens n., (2009). A Dictionary of Psychology. Edited by Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Apollo Group. 11 February 2010 < subview=Main&entry=t87.e5625> Pubs.niaaa.nih. (2010). Motivation for Change and Alcoholism Treatment. Retrieved from Silventar. (2010). Motivation and the brain. Retrieved from


Striatum. (2009). A Dictionary of Psychology. Edited by Andrew M. Colman. Oxford University Press. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Apollo Group. 10 February 2010 subview=Main&entry=t87.e8046 Sung, S., & Choi, J.. (2009). Do Big Five Personality Factors Affect Individual Creativity? The Moderating Role of Extrinsic Motivation. Social Behavior and Personality, 37(7), 941956. Retrieved February 12, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1895167101).

Motivation and References Volkow, N., Fowler, J., & Wang, G. (2003). The addicted human brain: insights from imaging studies. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111(10), 1444-1451. Retrieved from MEDLINE with Full Text database. Volkow, N., Fowler, J., Wang, G., Swanson, J., & Telang, F. (2007). Dopamine in drug abuse and addiction: Results of imaging studies and treatment implications. Archives of Neurology, 64(11), 1575-1579. doi:10.1001/archneur.64.11.1575.


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