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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: February 2019

Part V - Goals and Values


A growing body of literature indicates that motivation can critically shape long-term memory formation in the service of adaptive behavior. In the present chapter, we review recent cognitive neuroscience evidence of motivational influences on memory, with a focus on anatomical pathways by which neuromodulatory networks support encoding-related activity in distinct subregions of the medial temporal lobe. We argue that engagement of distinct neural circuits as a function of motivational context at encoding leads to formation of different memory representations, supporting different patterns of adaptive behavior. We present a novel neurocognitive model, the Interrogative/Imperative model of information-seeking, to account for pursuit of learning goals. Interrogative or imperative modes of information-seeking are often, but not necessarily, associated with approach or avoidance motivation, respectively. We also discuss additional influences on motivated memory encoding, including intrinsic motivation, curiosity, choice, and cognitive control processes. Taken together, this body of research suggests that the nature of memory representations depends on an individual's neurophysiological response to, rather than extrinsic qualities of, a given motivational manipulation or context at the time of encoding. Finally, we discuss potential applications of these research findings to real-life educational settings and directions for future research.