advertisement
Home » News » Motivational Research Splits the Brain

Motivational Research Splits the Brain

Motivational Research Splits the BrainWhat motivates you? Can something in your unconscious serve as a motivator? Do you catch yourself split as to whether a situation motivates you to take action?

New research has some surprising findings on motivation as research scientists expand on knowledge gained over the past few decades.

During this time period, psychologists discovered motivation does not have to be a conscious process — evidence the power of subliminal cues.

In fact, a few years ago, Mathias Pessiglione, of the Brain & Spine Institute in Paris, and his colleagues showed that motivation could be subconscious; when people saw subliminal pictures of a reward, even if they didn’t know what they’d seen, they would try harder for a bigger reward.

In the earlier study, volunteers were shown pictures of either a one-euro coin or a one-cent coin for a tiny fraction of a second. Then they were told to squeeze a pressure-sensing handgrip; the harder they squeezed it, the more of the coin they would get.

The image was subliminal, so volunteers didn’t know how big a coin they were squeezing for, but they would still squeeze harder for one euro than one cent. That result showed that motivation didn’t have to be conscious.

For the new study, in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Pessiglione and his colleagues Liane Schmidt, Stefano Palminteri, and Gilles Lafargue wanted to know if they could dig even farther down and show that one side of the brain could be motivated at a time.

The test started with having the subject focus on a cross in the middle of the computer screen. Then the motivational coin — one euro or one cent — was shown on one side of the visual field. People were only subliminally motivated when the coin appeared on the same side of the visual field as the squeezing hand.

For example, if the coin was on the right and they were squeezing with the right hand, they would squeeze harder for a euro than for a cent. But if the subliminal coin appeared on the left and they were squeezing on the right, they wouldn’t squeeze any harder for a euro.

The research shows that it’s possible for only one side of the brain, and thus one side of the body, to be motivated at a time, says Pessiglione.

“It changes the conception we have about motivation. It’s a weird idea, that your left hand, for instance, could be more motivated than your right hand.”

He says this basic research helps scientists understand how the two sides of the brain get along to drive our behavior.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Motivational Research Splits the Brain

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Motivational Research Splits the Brain. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/06/30/motivational-research-splits-the-brain/15243.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.