Dopamine promotes instrumental motivation, but reduces reward-related vigour
Grogan JP., Sandhu TR., Hu MT., Manohar SG.
Summary We can be motivated when reward depends on performance, or merely by the prospect of a guaranteed reward. Performance-dependent (contingent) reward is instrumental, relying on an internal action-outcome model, whereas motivation by guaranteed reward may serve to minimise opportunity cost in reward-rich environments. Competing theories propose that each type of motivation should be dependent on dopaminergic activity. We contrasted these two types of motivation with a rewarded saccade task, in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). When PD patients were ON dopamine, they had greater response vigour (peak saccadic velocity) for contingent rewards, whereas when PD patients were OFF medication, they had greater vigour for guaranteed rewards. These results support the view that reward expectation and contingency drive distinct motivational processes, and can be dissociated by manipulating dopaminergic activity. We posit that dopamine is necessary for goal-directed motivation, but dampens reward-driven vigour, challenging the theory that tonic dopamine encodes reward expectation.