, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 308-322
Date: 30 Mar 2012

Trait motivation moderates neural activation associated with goal pursuit

Abstract

Research has indicated that regions of left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) are involved in integrating the motivational and executive function processes related to, respectively, approach and avoidance goals. Given that sensitivity to pleasant and unpleasant stimuli is an important feature of conceptualizations of approach and avoidance motivation, it is possible that these regions of DLPFC are preferentially activated by valenced stimuli. The present study tested this hypothesis by using a task in which goal pursuit was threatened by distraction from valenced stimuli while functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected. The analyses examined whether the impact of trait approach and avoidance motivation on the neural processes associated with executive function differed depending on the valence or arousal level of the distractor stimuli. The present findings support the hypothesis that the regions of DLPFC under investigation are involved in integrating motivational and executive function processes, and they also indicate the involvement of a number of other brain areas in maintaining goal pursuit. However, DLPFC did not display differential sensitivity to valence.