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The Role of Feedback in Learning and Motivation

Recent Developments in Neuroscience Research on Human Motivation

ISBN: 978-1-78635-474-7, eISBN: 978-1-78635-473-0

Publication date: 21 November 2016


Performance feedback about whether responses are correct or incorrect provides valuable information to help guide learning. Although feedback itself has no extrinsic value, it can produce subjective feelings similar to “rewards” and “punishments.” Therefore, feedback can play both an informative and a motivational role. Over the past decade, researchers have identified a neural circuit that processes reward value and promotes reinforcement learning, involving target regions of dopaminergic input (e.g., striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex). Importantly, this circuit is engaged by performance feedback even in the absence of reward. Recent research suggests that feedback-related brain activity can be modulated by motivational context, such as whether feedback reflects goal achievement, whether learners are oriented toward the informative versus evaluative aspect of feedback, and whether individual learners are motivated to perform well relative to their peers. This body of research suggests that the brain responds flexibly to feedback, based on the learner’s goals.



Tricomi, E. and DePasque, S. (2016), "The Role of Feedback in Learning and Motivation", Recent Developments in Neuroscience Research on Human Motivation (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 19), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 175-202.



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