Motivation, Cerveau & Comportement


Research center

47 bld de l'Hôpital
75651 Paris
Alexis Brice


Université Pierre et Marie Curie
Université Pierre et Marie Curie


UMRS 1127 UMR 7225
Labex BioPsy

Mots clefs

computational modeling


Blain B, Hollard G, Pessiglione M. Incentive Sensitivity as a Behavioral Marker of Clinical Remission From Major Depressive Episode. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016 Jun;77(6):e697-703. doi: 10.4088/JCP.15m09995.

Automatic integration of confidence in the brain valuation signal. Lebreton M, Abitbol R, Daunizeau J, Pessiglione M. Nat Neurosci. 2015 Aug;18(8):1159-67. 

Skvortsova V, Palminteri S, Pessiglione M. Learning to minimize efforts versus maximizing rewards: computational principles and neural correlates. J Neurosci. 2014 Nov 19;34(47):15621-30. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1350-14.2014.

Lebreton M, Bertoux M, Boutet C, Lehericy S, Dubois B, Fossati P, Pessiglione M. A critical role for the hippocampus in the valuation of imagined outcomes. PLoS Biol. 2013 Oct;11(10):e1001684. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001684. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Similar improvement of reward and punishment learning by serotonin reuptake inhibitors in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Palminteri S, Clair AH, Mallet L, Pessiglione M.  Biological Psychiatry (2012).

Neural mechanisms underlying motivation of mental versus physical effort. 
Schmidt L, Lebreton M, Cléry-Melin ML, Daunizeau J, Pessiglione M
PLoS Biol. 2012 Feb;10(2):e1001266.

Complementary neural correlates of motivation in dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons of monkeys, S. Bouret, S. Ravel, et B. J. Richmond, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, vol. 6, 201

Intersection of reward and memory in monkey rhinal cortex. Clark AM, Bouret S, Young AM, Richmond BJ.J Neurosci. 2012 May 16;32(20):6869-77

Fields of research

Cognitive neurosciences / neuropsychology /neuroeconomy

Research Theme

Why do we do what we do? We are largely unaware of our own motives. Our team seeks to understand how motivation works, in both the normal and pathological brain. We define motivation as a set of processes that assign values to potential situations so as to drive behavior.

Our research is closely related to the emerging field of neuroeconomics, which is focused on understanding value-based decision-making and on explaining deviations to rationality. We wish to build a comprehensive account of motivational processes, investigating

- not only valuation but also belief attribution (assigning probabilities to potential situations)

- not only choice but also effort allocation (translating expected value into energy expenditure)


More specifically, our aims are to better describe

a) how the brain encodes values and beliefs

b) how values depend on parameters such as reward magnitude, probability, delay and cost

c) how values are affected by social contexts

d) how values are modified through learning

e) how values influence the brain systems (perceptual, cognitive, motor) that underpin behavioral performance


To investigate neural correlates of motivational processes, we combine three approaches:

1) human cognitive neuroscience, which is central as we ultimately wish to understand ourselves, in both healthy states and pathological conditions where motivation is either deficient (apathy) or out of control (impulsivity)

2) primate neurophysiology, which is essential to describe information processing at the single-unit level and to derive causality by observing behavioral consequences of brain manipulations

3) computational modeling, which is mandatory to quantitatively link the different description levels (single-unit recordings, local field potentials, regional hemodynamic response and motor outputs)