Motivation significantly influences learning and memory. While a long history of research has focused on simple forms of associative learning, such as Pavlovian conditioning, recent research is beginning to characterize how motivation influences episodic memory. In this chapter we synthesize findings across behavioral, cognitive, and educational neuroscience to characterize motivation’s influence on memory. We provide evidence that neural systems underlying motivation, namely the mesolimbic dopamine system, interact with and facilitate activity within systems underlying episodic memory, centered on the medial temporal lobes. We focus on two mechanisms of episodic memory enhancement: encoding and consolidation. Together, the reviewed research supports an adaptive model of memory in which an individual’s motivational state (i.e., learning under states of reward or punishment) shapes the nature of memory representations in service of future goals. The impact of motivation on learning and memory, therefore, has very clear implications for and applications to educational settings.
We would like to thank Sonali Biswas, Nathan Clement, and Dr. Kimberly Chiew for their comments, discussion, and assistance with making figures. We would also like to thank the following funding agencies for their support: 5F32MH100764-02 to KCD.
Murty, V.P. and Dickerson, K.C. (2016), "Motivational Influences on Memory
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