Modulation of Motor Performance by a Monetary Incentive: A Pilot Study

Clelia Capurro, Giulia Asprea, Irene Tamagnone, Susanna Summa, Vittorio Sanguineti1

  • 1University of Genoa



Contributed papers (Oral)


06. Neural and Rehabilitation Engineering


08:30 - 10:00 | Wed 26 Aug | Amber 8 | 6.3

Motor Learning, Neural Control, and Neuromuscular Systems I


It is commonly acknowledged that movement performance is determined by a trade-off between accuracy requirements and energetic expenditure. However, their relative weights are subjective and depend on the perceived benefit (or cost) associated to successful movement completion. A deeper knowledge on how this trade-off affects motor behavior may suggest ways to manipulate it in pathologies, like Parkinson's disease, in which the mechanisms underlying the selection of motor response are believed to be defective. In this preliminary study, we associate a monetary incentive to successful completion of a full-body reaching task and look at the determinants of motor performance. Our preliminary results suggest that motor performance (measured as the absolute average acceleration of hand movements) increases with movement amplitude/target elevation. Overall, performance also increases with the amount of monetary incentive and with the average reward experienced in previous trials. In addition, subjects with a greater sensitivity to incentive exhibit a low sensitivity to the average reward. In contrast, subjects with a negative sensitivity to incentive exhibit a smaller sensitivity to the average reward. These results suggest that motor performance has a complex relation with its perceived benefits, and this relation is probably subject-dependent.

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