In Effort: A Behavioral Neuroscience Perspective on the Will, author Jay Schulkin presents a two-fold thesis: there is no absolute separation of the cognitive and non-cognitive brain, and there are diverse cognitive systems, many of which are embodied in motor systems that underlie self-regulation. Central to this thesis is that dopamine is the one neurotransmitter that underlies the diverse senses of effort, and is apparent in most everyday activity, whether solving a problem in our head or moving about.
As scientific literature abounds with studies of decision-making and effort, this book emphasizes the importance of demythologizing our understanding of cognitive systems in order to link motivation, behavioral inhibition, self-regulation, and will.
Effort will benefit researchers and students in neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, as well as anyone with interest in this topic.
"Why do we do what we do? This is one of the most important questions in psychology and brain science. In Effort, Jay Schulkin has given us a scholarly and insightful view of this perennial problem."
New York University
"Psychologists still struggle to define and understand memory, learning, emotion and, above all, consciousness. … Neuroscientists, faced with the most complex structure in the known biological world (by far) struggle to understand the rules of brain function, in which complex neurons are arranged into even more complex assemblies, changing across time and between individuals. … Does an addict still retain free will, driven to drugs even though he knows his craving may destroy him or his place in the world? It needs individuals of unusual courage, intellectual breadth and literary skill to build the rickety bridges between the chasms separating disciplines, themselves testaments to the limitations and biases of the human brain. Jay Schulkin takes a central mystery: we know what we do, but do we know why we do it? What drives us to behave the way we do? Do we choose what we do? Why do some people find rewarding things that others find distasteful? Why are there shakers and movers, but also couch potatoes? Creativity and originality may be the greatest gifts, but without the will to do something with them, they are nothing. Cultural and technological evolution is the result of talented people making the effort to do something different. This book takes you on the bumpy, exciting and always uncertain journey through our present incomplete knowledge about how far we understand the brain's role in these matters. You will find much to intrigue you, much to wonder at, perhaps quite a lot to disagree with, but at no point will you be bored."
University of Cambridge
Contents: Preface. Introduction: Self-Preservation and Effort. Neuroscience and Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Central Motive States. Willing to Believe: Reenvisioning Cognitive/Motor Control. Self-Control and Behavioral Inhibition. Afflictions. Choice, Control, and the Brain. Conclusion: An Understanding of Effort and the Will.