Human Motivation & Affective Neuroscience Lab
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Brain activation correlates of implicit motives

Although implicit motives appear to be intimately tied to fundamental emotional and motivational phenomena (Schultheiss, 2001, 2008) and thus to functions of what Joseph LeDoux has called the 'emotional brain', so far little was known about where and how implicit motives are manifested in the brain. The HuMAN Lab has therefore started to explore brain activation correlates of implicit motives. Recently, a first study was completed in which participants who were high or low in implicit power motivation watched either pleasant (i.e., surprised faces), aversive (i.e., angry faces) or neutral stimuli (i.e., neutral faces). Results suggest that brain regions that play a critical role in core affective and motivational processes in animals and humans, such as the striatum, the orbitofrontal cortex, and the insula, respond more strongly to motive-arousing stimuli in high-power individuals than in low-power individuals (Schultheiss, Wirth, Waugh, Stanton, Meier, & Reuter-Lorenz, 2008). These areas are also involved in implicit affiliation and achievement motivation (Hall, Stanton, & Schultheiss, 2010). The HuMAN Lab will conduct further research examining in more detail the specific contributions of emotional-brain structures in motive-modulated processes such as face perception, attentional orienting, and Pavlovian and instrumental learning.

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