Dopamine promotes cognitive effort by biasing the benefits versus costs of cognitive work
SourceScience, 367, 6484, (2020), pp. 1362-1366
Article / Letter to editor
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PI Group Motivational & Cognitive Control
Subject170 000 Motivational & Cognitive Control; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Stimulants such as methylphenidate are increasingly used for cognitive enhancement but precise mechanisms are unknown. We found that methylphenidate boosts willingness to expend cognitive effort by altering the benefit-to-cost ratio of cognitive work. Willingness to expend effort was greater for participants with higher striatal dopamine synthesis capacity, whereas methylphenidate and sulpiride, a selective D2 receptor antagonist, increased cognitive motivation more for participants with lower synthesis capacity. A sequential sampling model informed by momentary gaze revealed that decisions to expend effort are related to amplification of benefit-versus-cost information attended early in the decision process, whereas the effect of benefits is strengthened with higher synthesis capacity and by methylphenidate. These findings demonstrate that methylphenidate boosts the perceived benefits versus costs of cognitive effort by modulating striatal dopamine signaling.
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