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Motivated Memory: What Can We Learn From Cognitive Neuroscience?

Fri, April 13, 4:05 to 6:05pm, Millennium Broadway New York Times Square, Floor: Fifth Floor, Room 5.08


Growing evidence indicates that motivation can shape long-term memory formation in the service of adaptive behavior. We review recent cognitive neuroscience evidence of motivational influences on memory, particularly the anatomical pathways by which neuromodulatory networks support encoding-related activity in distinct medial temporal lobe (MTL) sub-regions (Adcock, Thangavel, Whitfield-Gabrieli, Knutson, & Gabrieli, 2006; Murty, LaBar, & Adcock, 2016; Murty, LaBar, & Adcock, 2012). We argue that distinct neural circuitry engaged under different motivational contexts promotes formation of different memory representations, with implications for adaptive behavior and learning in real-life settings.

In this presentation, we will overview Murty and Adcock’s (2017) neurocognitive model, the Interrogative/Imperative Model of Information-seeking (Figure 1). This model posits that goal pursuit is primarily associated with interrogative or imperative modes of information-seeking; these modes are often, but not necessarily, associated with approach vs. avoidance motivation respectively. These two modes might engage different MTL sub-regions (with interrogative mode engaging hippocampus, vs. imperative mode engaging cortical MTL regions including parahippocampal and perirhinal cortex), promoting encoding of different memory representations: hippocampal engagement may promote relational memory, while cortical MTL engagement promotes salient item memory. We also discuss additional influences on motivated memory encoding, including intrinsic motivation, curiosity, choice and cognitive control, and discuss these influences in the context of the Interrogative/Imperative model.

In particular, we will introduce and discuss the following critical questions:

1) How can the Interrogative/Imperative model inform a neurobiologically-mechanistic understanding of motivated learning?
2) Can curiosity and interest be understood and dissociated in terms of neurobiological mechanisms of motivation to learn?
3) What is the role of cognitive control processes in motivated memory, and how can these processes be optimally leveraged to enhance learning?

We will argue that cognitive neuroscience evidence addressing these key points can link motivationally-enhanced memory to fundamental neurobiological mechanisms and generate testable predictions for optimal motivated learning in educational settings.


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