A brain network instantiating approach and avoidance motivation

Jeffrey M. Spielberg, Gregory A. Miller, Stacie L. Warren, Anna S. Engels, Laura D. Crocker, Marie T. Banich, Bradley P. Sutton, Wendy Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research indicates that dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is important for pursuing goals, and areas of DLPFC are differentially involved in approach and avoidance motivation. Given the complexity of the processes involved in goal pursuit, DLPFC is likely part of a network that includes orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), cingulate, amygdala, and basal ganglia. This hypothesis was tested with regard to one component of goal pursuit, the maintenance of goals in the face of distraction. Examination of connectivity with motivation-related areas of DLPFC supported the network hypothesis. Differential patterns of connectivity suggest a distinct role for DLPFC areas, with one involved in selecting approach goals, one in selecting avoidance goals, and one in selecting goal pursuit strategies. Finally, differences in trait motivation moderated connectivity between DLPFC and OFC, suggesting that this connectivity is important for instantiating motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1200-1214
Number of pages15
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Motivation
  • Normal volunteers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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