CBBM Lecture "The relationship between reward, cognitive effort, and behavioral benefits" by

Prof. Dr. Nico Böhler,

Department of Experimental Psychology,

University of Ghent,


will take place on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 from 15:00 to 16:00 hours in CBBM, EG, B1/B2.

Host: Prof. Dr. Nico Bunzeck

Institute of Psychology I
University of Lübeck


Motivation is (unsurprisingly) a key feature of human behavior, with extrinsic aspects like reward prospect justifying the expenditure of effort and energizing processes that are instrumental to actually obtaining the reward. Yet, given the tight coupling of different processes related to evaluation as well as to task preparation and execution, it is difficult to specifically pin-point and dissociate such operations, and to furthermore relate them to the ultimate behavioral outcome. In this presentation, I will first show fMRI data indicating that classic “reward areas” are relevant in a wider motivational context, pertaining to cognitive effort also in the absence of direct reward prospect. I will then discuss interactions between task demands and reward prospect, and how reward benefits arise in cognitive control tasks. Finally, I will present EEG-pupillometry data that link behavioral reward benefits to enhanced proactive control.


Nico Boehler studied Psychology and Neural Sciences at the Universities of Heidelberg and Magdeburg. He obtained his PhD in Neural Sciences in 2007 at the University of Magdeburg, where he also did a first post-doc. After that he worked as a post-doc at the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University (North Carolina, USA) for two and a half years. Since 2011 he is a professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Ghent University (Belgium). His research revolves around motivation, cognitive control, and attention, as well as their integration, using non-invasive brain-activity measures in humans, in particular fMRI and EEG, with recent extensions to pupillometry.