The Emerging Theory of Motivation

Anthony Landreth

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195304787
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Emerging Theory of Motivation


This article attempts to elate aspects of our commonsense understanding of motivation to an emerging, mechanistic account of motivation in neuroscience. It identifies various points in the neural process where motivational control will have an opportunity to play a role. It suggests that these points of influence occur in the early stages of planning a course of action by sequencing a set of subgoals, at the stage of action selection when the type of instrumental action to be performed is chosen and at the stage of online action correction when adjustments are made in the midst of performance. The article argues that it is possible to advance the understanding of motivational states by modeling them on reinforcement learning principles.

Keywords: motivation; neuroscience; neural process; instrumental action; online action correction; reinforcement learning

Article.  18081 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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