Do We Overeat Because of Poor Self-Control?

We know how to stop eating in a literal sense. We just don’t know how to think about overeating in a way that motivates us to stop.

When Does Feedback Increase or Decrease Motivation?

We have an intuitive sense about how performance feedback influences our motivation—that learning we’re on track will be motivating and finding we’re not meeting expectations will be demotivating. But that’s not necessarily the case. It’s all in our interpretation of what the feedback means.

Me, My Brain, and I

Social psychologists have made recently breakthroughs in understanding the self and its functions using neuroimaging. I discuss some of these discoveries, including the positive bias in self-perception, an apparent purpose for consciousness, and one surprising source of self-regulation. It turns out our brains contain some interesting information about ourselves!

Does Brain-Training Work?

A growing and increasingly profitable online industry has emerged selling “brain-training” services that promise to increase intelligence and other cognitive abilities. However, research on these services provides (at best) equivocal support for their effectiveness. Why don’t they work?

What Is the Value of Self-Control?

The lay belief about self-control is that somewhere in your mind, the dual forces of willpower and temptation fight it out in a winner-takes-all battle for control over your behavior. This account is compelling because it feels so real, but this “dual mind theory” is wrong. Instead, self-control is merely a question of value.

NASCAR and Neuroimaging

The distinction between how a physicist and a mechanic thinks about the world contains some deep insights into one of the most important ongoing debates in neuroscience and psychology about how the mind and brain are related.

Frank Underwood, Motivation Maven?

Frank Underwood from House of Cards is highly effective at executing his nefarious plan. Why is he so good at it, and what could he do better? Recent neuroscience research has answers.

Why Is It So Hard to Stick to New Year’s Resolutions?

We have a limited capacity to chase new goals before we revert back to old habits. Psychologists used to think the reason for this was a limited supply of blood glucose. But It seems that the finite resource underlying our ability to move against the path of least resistance is not physiological but rather psychological in nature.

The Brain's Clues to Finding a Will and a Way

The brain systems that represent why we are motivated to attain a goal are distinct from the ones that represent the how we pursue the goal, but effective goal pursuit requires both systems. This post explains the implications of this fact about how goals are reflected in our brains.

Goals, Motivation and the Brain

The mission of “The Motivated Brain” is to tell you about new and exciting results from neuroscience research that apply to motivation, and to explain how those findings can improve how you set and pursue goals in your daily life.