How do emotion and motivation direct executive control?

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Apr;13(4):160-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.01.006. Epub 2009 Mar 13.


Emotion and motivation have crucial roles in determining human behavior. Yet, how they interact with cognitive control functions is less understood. Here, the basic elements of a conceptual framework for understanding how they interact are introduced. More broadly, the 'dual competition' framework proposes that emotion and motivation affect both perceptual and executive competition. In particular, the anterior cingulate cortex is hypothesized to be engaged in attentional/effortful control mechanisms and to interact with several other brain structures, including the amygdala and nucleus accumbens, in integrating affectively significant signals with control signals in prefrontal cortex. An implication of the proposal is that emotion and motivation can either enhance or impair behavioral performance depending on how they interact with control functions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Behavior
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motivation*
  • Problem Solving / physiology*