Mechanisms of Motivation


Motivation and Incentives
„ Motivation - factors within and outside an organism that cause it to behave a certain way at a certain time „ Motivational state or drive - an internal condition, which can change over time, that orients an individual to a specific set of goals (e.g., hunger, thirst, sex, curiosity) „ Incentives - goals or reinforcers in the external environment (e.g., good grades, food, a mate)

Drives as Tissue Needs
„ Homeostasis - the constancy of internal conditions that the body must actively maintain „ Drives may be an upset in homeostasis, inducing behavior to correct the imbalance „ Animals do behave in accordance with their tissue needs (e.g., increasing or decreasing caloric intake, drive for salt) „ However, homeostasis cannot explain all drives

Types of Drives
„ Regulatory drives - helps preserve homeostasis (e.g., hunger, thirst, oxygen) „ Nonregulatory drives - serve other purposes (e.g., sex, achievement)


Drives as States of the Brain
„ Central state theory of drives different drives correspond to neural activity in different sets of neurons in the brain „ Central drive system - set of neurons in which activity constitutes a drive


Drives as States of the Brain
„ Techniques for studying central drive systems include lesions and stimulation
Connecting Socket




Drives as States of the Brain
Cerebral cortex

„ The hub of many central drive systems lies in the hypothalamus

Hypotahlamus Portion of limbic system

Pituitary gland Brainstem


Hunger Drive
„ Two areas of the hypothalamus, the lateral and ventromedial areas, play a central role in the hunger drive




Lateral Area
„ Electrical lesions to tract of axons connecting brainstem, hypothalamus and basal ganglia cause a loss of all goaldirected behavior „ Stimulation causes drives in response to available incentives




Lateral Area
„ However, chemical lesions to specific cell bodies reduce hunger drive, but do not abolish it most other drives appear normal




Ventromedial Area
„ Lesions alter digestive and metabolic processes „ Food is converted into fat rather than energy molecules, causing animal to eat much more than normal and gain weight




Hunger Drive
„ Other stimuli that act on the brain to increase or decrease hunger include ƒ satiety signals from the stomach ƒ signals indicating the amount of food molecules in the blood ƒ leptin, a hormone indicating the amount of fat in the body ƒ the appetizer effect


Research on Weight Regulation and Dieting
„ No consistent personality trait differences found between obese and non-obese people (e.g., willpower, anxiety) „ Dieters and obese are more likely to eat in response to stress than non-dieters „ Family environment of little importance in determining body weight - genetics plays a large role „ Number of fat-storage cells is a major determinant of body weight

Research on Weight Regulation and Dieting
„ Fat cells are determined by genetics and food intake „ They increase with weight gain, but merely shrink with weight loss - may stimulate hunger „ Weight loss causes a decline in basal metabolism
Fat cells

Normal diet

High-fat diet

Return to normal diet 14

Effects of Culture and Habits on Body Weight
„ Settling point - cluster of genetic and environmental factors that cause a person’s weight to settle within a given range „ Weight can be affected by factors like diet, exercise, and daily habits (e.g., stairs instead of elevator)


Sex Drive
„ Increased production of testosterone and estrogen at puberty is responsible for physical differentiation „ Increased secretion of DHEA, primary adrenal sex hormone, is responsible for sexual feelings
First sexual

500 400 300 200 100 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

attraction in both sexes

Final maturation of testes in males Final maturation of ovaries in females

9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Age (in years)
Females Males 16

Male Sex Drive
„ Testosterone maintains sex drive in adult males
ƒ castration decreases drive ƒ testosterone injections or implantation to medial preoptic area restores drive


Female Sex Drive
„ Estrous cycle controls drive in nonhuman mammals
ƒ removal of ovaries abolishes drive, while hormone injections restore it

„ Also, lesions to ventromedial area abolish drive, while injection or implantation restores drive

Female Sex Drive
„ Female monkeys and apes depend less on hormones for sexual behavior „ Human female sex drive may not be consistently affected by hormone cycle at all
ƒ ovarian hormones play small role ƒ adrenal hormones like DHEA and testosterone play larger role


Early Effects of Testosterone
„ Presence of testosterone during critical period will cause rudimentary genitals of fetus to develop into male structures „ Testosterone acts in brain to promote development of neural systems for male sex drive and inhibit systems for female drive „ Absence causes development of female structures „ Stressful events experienced by pregnant rats reduce level of prenatal testosterone

Human Sexual Orientation
„ Orientation is an early-emerging, ingrained aspect of the self that probably does not change „ No consistent relationship between orientation and childhood experiences (e.g., parenting, abuse, sexual experience) „ Controversial findings suggest a possible relationship among prenatal stress, androgens, and the development of brain systems that play a role in sexual attraction


Reward Pathways in the Brain
„ Medial forebrain bundle runs from the midbrain through the lateral area of the hypothalamus into the nucleus accumbens in the basal ganglia
ƒ neurons in this tract secrete dopamine ƒ animals will self-stimulate this pathway ƒ euphoria-producing drugs affect the level of dopamine in this tract ƒ evolved to promote survival and reproduction

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