Motivation – Behavioral Approaches and Translational Potential

Lopez-Cruz, Laura and Heath, Christopher J. (2022). Motivation – Behavioral Approaches and Translational Potential. In: Della Salla, Sergio ed. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2nd edition, Volume 2. Elsevier, pp. 60–69.



Motivation and motivated behaviors are crucial to the survival of living organisms. In the clinical context, inappropriate elevations or decrements in motivation are associated with a variety of adverse indications, ranging from addiction to illicit drugs to a large number of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease where losses of motivation are fundamental to the expression of apathy, a particularly debilitating symptom that is commonly expressed early in pathogenesis. Despite the pervasiveness of pathology-associated changes in motivation, targeted treatment options remain extremely limited, highlighting a need for increased mechanistic understanding and the development of robust motivation assessment platforms with the potential for use in both the preclinical and clinical environments. This chapter provides an overview of the current conceptualization of motivation and the modifiers of this construct and details a range of behavioral assessment paradigms that can be used in preclinical assessment. The importance of enhancing the cross-species translational potential of such paradigms is emphasized, with the development of touchscreen-delivered assessments suggested as a valuable avenue to explore to enable progress in this important area.

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