My PhD was at the crossroad of Economics and Neuroscience and related to the influence of cognitive fatigue on economic decision, using computational modelling and neuroimaging techniques. More specifically, I showed that performing hard cognitive tasks for hours or overexercising for days led to a decrease in activity of a specific part of the brain which is required to inhibit impulsive decisions, i.e. here to favour large, delayed reward over small, immediate rewards. As a result, people became more and more impulsive. During my time in Paris, I also was module leader of a Neuroeconomics for a MSC of Psychology and Economics (2012-2016).
I now focus on the concept of intrinsic rewards, using the same methods. Some activities are undertaken in order to reach a reward that is necessary for survival and reproduction. Yet, most activities are pleasurable on their own right, like exploring nature, playing, reading, etc, without leading to an explicit primary or secondary reward. I show that these activities are approached, generate activity in the brain reward system, elicit positive emotions and act as reinforcers: they are intrinsically rewarding.