Why motivation to learn declines with age
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Neuroscientists have now identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining cost and reward motivation.
Researchers are working on possible drug treatments that could stimulate this circuit. They suggest that training patients to enhance activity in this circuit through biofeedback could offer another potential way to improve their cost-benefit evaluations.
As people get older, they often lose their motivation to learn new things. This get-up-and-go attitude is vital for our social well-being and learning.
In order to survive, we need to be able to learn what is good for us, and what is bad for us. But, a person may value a reward so highly that the risk of experiencing a possible cost is ignored. Another may wish to avoid the cost to the exclusion of all rewards. This may result in reward-driven learning in some, and cost-driven learning in others.
Many mental health disorders can skew the ability to evaluate the cost and rewards of an action, such as anxiety and depression.
A depressed person may undervalue potentially rewarding experiences.
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