Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Randall C. O'Reilly

Second Advisor

McKell Carter

Third Advisor

Matt Jones


Animals integrate motivational states with signals from the environment (e.g. learned cues) and signals from the body (e.g. muscle fatigue) to make decisions about how much effort to exert for different possible rewards. Previous research has implicated the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in processing information during effort-related decision-making. Here, we use fMRI to record activity in the ACC and other prefrontal cortical areas while subjects integrate motivation, stimulus cues, and bodily signals during the moments leading up to a decision regarding exerting high physical effort to obtain a secondary reward. We show that caudal ACC areas co-activate with premotor areas prior to a decision to exert high physical force. On the other hand, more rostral ACC areas co-activate with lateral OFC prior to a decision to avoid high effort. We also show that mid-rostral dACC co- activates with LPFC areas during presentation of the high-reward/high-effort cues, which suggests ACC involvement in recruiting attention systems in response to cues predicting reward.