Why do we remember some information easily for the rest of our lives but we forget other information immediately? It is clear that learning depends on the characteristics and processing of information. However, very little is known about how motivational states affect the likelihood of memory retention. Recently, we have shown that activity in the mesolimbic dopaminergic circuit during motivation enhances learning and later memory consolidation processes.
My lab - the Cardiff University Motivation and Memory Lab - uses a multi-modal neuroimaging approach (structural and functional MRI, M/EEG) to investigate how motivational states contribute to memory enhancement. In order to translate our findings to real-life learning situations, we are not only interested in the role of extrinsic motivational states (e.g., reward) on memory but also how intrinsic motivational states (e.g., via curiosity or exploration) enhance learning and memory consolidation.