Neurocognitive development of motivated behavior: Dynamic changes across childhood and adolescence

Dylan G. Gee, Kevin G. Bath, Carolyn M. Johnson, Heidi C. Meyer, Vishnu P. Murty, Wouter van den Bos, Catherine A. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to anticipate and respond appropriately to the challenges and opportunities present in our environments is critical for adaptive behavior. Recent methodological innovations have led to substantial advances in our understanding of the neurocircuitry supporting such motivated behavior in adulthood. However, the neural circuits and cognitive processes that enable threat-and reward-motivated behavior undergo substantive changes over the course of development, and these changes are less well understood. In this article, we highlight recent research in human and animal models demonstrating how developmental changes in prefrontal-subcortical neural circuits give rise to corresponding changes in the processing of threats and rewards from infancy to adulthood. We discuss how these developmental trajectories are altered by experiential factors, such as early-life stress, and highlight the relevance of this research for understanding the developmental onset and treatment of psychiatric disorders characterized by dysregulation of motivated behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9433-9445
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 31 2018


  • Development
  • Dopamine
  • Early life stress
  • Motivation
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Reward
  • Threat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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