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Computational Intelligence and Neuroscience
Volume 2015, Article ID 698725, 6 pages
Research Article

Neural Basis of Intrinsic Motivation: Evidence from Event-Related Potentials

1Business School, Ningbo University, Ningbo 315211, China
2School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China
3Neuromanagement Lab, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310027, China

Received 14 January 2015; Accepted 5 April 2015

Academic Editor: Ye-Sho Chen

Copyright © 2015 Jia Jin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human intrinsic motivation is of great importance in human behavior. However, although researchers have focused on this topic for decades, its neural basis was still unclear. The current study employed event-related potentials to investigate the neural disparity between an interesting stop-watch (SW) task and a boring watch-stop task (WS) to understand the neural mechanisms of intrinsic motivation. Our data showed that, in the cue priming stage, the cue of the SW task elicited smaller N2 amplitude than that of the WS task. Furthermore, in the outcome feedback stage, the outcome of the SW task induced smaller FRN amplitude and larger P300 amplitude than that of the WS task. These results suggested that human intrinsic motivation did exist and that it can be detected at the neural level. Furthermore, intrinsic motivation could be quantitatively indexed by the amplitude of ERP components, such as N2, FRN, and P300, in the cue priming stage or feedback stage. Quantitative measurements would also be convenient for intrinsic motivation to be added as a candidate social factor in the construction of a machine learning model.