An examination of the link between the vigor with which we move and the value that the brain assigns to the goal of the movement.
Why do we reflexively run toward people we love, but only walk toward others? In Vigor, Reza Shadmehr and Alaa Ahmed examine the link between how the brain assigns value to things and how it controls our movements. They find that brain regions thought to be principally involved in decision making also affect movement vigor—and that brain regions thought to be principally responsible for movement also bias patterns of decision making.
Shadmehr and Ahmed first consider the relationship of value and vigor from a behavioral and mathematical perspective, considering a series of fascinating observations—including, for example, data showing that people in certain cities tend to walk faster than those living elsewhere—through the lens of optimal foraging theory. They then go on to explore the neural basis of vigor and valuation, synthesizing results from experiments that have measured activity in various brain structures and neuromodulators, including dopamine and serotonin. They speculate that in the future, technologies may be able to predict our personal preferences by measuring our movements; through the vigor with which we move, we unwittingly reveal one of our well-guarded secrets: how much we value the object of our attention.
About the Author
Reza Shadmehr is Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is the coauthor of The Computational Neurobiology of Reaching and Pointing and Biological Learning and Control (both published by the MIT Press).
Praise for Vigor: Neuroeconomics of Movement Control
"An exciting guide for those who want to understand from a computational and neural perspective how and why the vigor of our actions reveals so much about our inner thoughts."
– Daniel Wolpert, Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University
"Vigor provides fascinating biological foundations of utility and choice by showing how our movements reveal our preferences. Shadmehr and Ahmed offer a cardinal measurement tool for utility that is of fundamental interest to all scholars in decision science."
– Ernst Fehr, Director of the UBS Center for Economics in Society, University of Zurich
"Using multiple features, including attention and motivation, Shadmehr and Ahmed show how mind and action are controlled by various brain areas. This unique approach makes Vigor an important book for both individuals and society."
– Okihide Hikosaka, Distinguished Investigator, NIH