Chapter 7

Theories of Motivation in Neurosciences

7.1. Academic literature on the subject

A request for keywords such as “motivational system” or “motivational systems” turns up 265 documents from between 1965 and 2011 on PubMed, which is the largest database of biomedical literature in the world, hosting 22 million articles. This means two things. The first is that the subject is a complex one to deal with, particularly in terms of experimentation and ethics surrounding human beings; the economic consequences may not be as evident as for cancer. Then, the rate of publications on this subject has increased greatly over the past few years (179, which equates to 68%, between 2000 and 2011). The subject is beginning to occupy a slightly more important place in current affairs. In this chapter, we discuss a number of these works which have made their mark on physiology relating to the brain’s motivational system.

7.2. Psychology and Neurosciences

The question which psychologists ask themselves is whether they can identify the cause or causes of a disorganization responsible for observable symptoms of an individual’s high-level cognitive functions, simply by explaining a malfunction at the level of the cognitive system. Neurosciences, for their part, have until recently assumed that the physiological systems responsible for functions such as sleep or neuro-endocrine regulation must, by definition, be able to be reduced to elementary biological mechanisms. More modern neurosciences attempt ...

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