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Précis of Vigor: Neuroeconomics of Movement Control

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2020

Reza Shadmehr
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 21205,
Alaa A. Ahmed
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO80027, USA.


Why do we run toward people we love, but only walk toward others? Why do people in New York seem to walk faster than other cities? Why do our eyes linger longer on things we value more? There is a link between how the brain assigns value to things, and how it controls our movements. This link is an ancient one, developed through shared neural circuits that on one hand teach us how to value things, and on the other hand control the vigor with which we move. As a result, when there is damage to systems that signal reward, like dopamine and serotonin, that damage not only affects our mood and patterns of decision-making, but how we move. In this book, we first ask why, in principle, evolution should have developed a shared system of control between valuation and vigor. We then focus on the neural basis of vigor, synthesizing results from experiments that have measured activity in various brain structures and neuromodulators, during tasks in which animals decide how patiently they should wait for reward, and how vigorously they should move to acquire it. Thus, the way we move unmasks one of our well-guarded secrets: how much we value the thing we are moving toward.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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