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Motivational signals pervade daily life: From the appetizing depictions of food on product packaging and the lure of travel advertisements to the deterring effect of traffic notices, we are surrounded by stimuli that entice us or dissuade us from acting in certain ways. These signals are of fundamental importance to all organisms, helping us categorize the world into desirable and undesirable, interesting and irrelevant. Motivation is a powerful force that not only pushes us to act and make decisions, but also influences cognitive processes such as attention and memory.

A core system for motivational processing is the dopamine network. It is involved in perceiving and learning about rewards and modulates cognitive functions through its widespread connections to other cortical areas.

Our research aims to characterize how appetitive and aversive motivational events are processed in the human brain and how they shape cognitive functions such as memory and decision-making. We use a multimodal approach by combining functional imaging with pharmacological methods to investigate the role of dopamine in motivation.