Motivating forces of human actions. Neuroimaging reward and social interaction

Brain Res Bull. 2005 Nov 15;67(5):368-81. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2005.06.016. Epub 2005 Jul 25.


In neuroeconomics, reward and social interaction are central concepts to understand what motivates human behaviour. Both concepts are investigated in humans using neuroimaging methods. In this paper, we provide an overview about these results and discuss their relevance for economic behaviour. For reward it has been shown that a system exists in humans that is involved in predicting rewards and thus guides behaviour, involving a circuit including the striatum, the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala. Recent studies on social interaction revealed a mentalizing system representing the mental states of others. A central part of this system is the medial prefrontal cortex, in particular the anterior paracingulate cortex. The reward as well as the mentalizing system is engaged in economic decision-making. We will discuss implications of this study for neuromarketing as well as general implications of these results that may help to provide deeper insights into the motivating forces of human behaviour.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Game Theory
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / anatomy & histology
  • Limbic System / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Motivation*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Reward*
  • Social Behavior