From preparation to assessment: exploring the neural substrates of approach-motivated goal pursuit

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Decades of research have suggested that emotive states drive much of human behavior However, little work has examined the relationship between emotions and the neural correlates of action processes. The present research sought to begin to bridge this gap by examining the bi-directional relationship between emotion and neural correlates of motor activity during goal pursuit. Across two studies, I examined the relationship between approach-motivated affect and two psychophysiological variables: beta suppression over the motor cortex and the reward positivity (RewP). Using a monetary incentive delay paradigm, Experiment 1 sought to understand how previous goal pursuit performance impacts neural activity associated with motor-action preparation during future goal pursuit. Results indicated that past performance did not impact motor-action preparation in approach-motivated states, but behavioral results suggested that differences in reaction time due to past performance was manipulated within approach-motivated and neutral states. Experiment 2 used a modified monetary incentive delay paradigm to examine whether manipulating motor-action preparation independent of motivational state influenced neural correlates of emotional responding. Results indicated that motor action preparation, independent of motivational state, increased emotional responding to appetitive pictures. These results indicate that the relationship between motor-action preparation and approach motivation are bi-directional, integrating information from both psychological processes to engage goal pursuit.

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