Reward and Motivation

One for the money, one for the show: Neural activation changes when intending to gamble on versus intending to watch soccer

On Monday, May 14th, 2018 the US Supreme Court effectively legalized sports gambling. Of course, prior to that ruling, sports gambling had been possible in the US, in various forms, online (one-day fantasy sports contests, like DraftKings) and through offshore betting venues. While fans had ample opportunity to wager on the performances of individual players […]

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Merging multiple shades of play in multiple ways

The special issue on the evolution and psychological significance of play in Learning and Behavior covers multiple topics, species, and ages and is most welcome. I hope the issue and thoughtful papers receive the attention that they deserve. With the great influx of research interest in play over the last 20 years, some of the […]

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Morality Play, New Jersey Style: The American version of isumaqsayuq

In contrast to the animal play that is covered in the special issue of Learning & Behavior dedicated to The Evolutionary and Psychological Significance of Play, humans often use elaborate representation (language and other symbols) in their play.  An example that occurs during contemporary Christmas season is the elf-on-the-shelf. By the time I visited homes […]

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38 shades of play: Commencing a digital event on the science of a diverse and pervasive behavior

We all know what it means to play. We play badminton, we play with others, we are playfully exploring an environment…. Come to think of it, there is so much to playing, what does it mean to play? According to the Oxford English dictionary, the verb “play” has 7 different meanings, ranging from “Engaging in […]

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The Unbearable Distraction of Being Sweet: Performing in the Presence of Candy

Think eating is easy? Think again. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight worldwide in 2016. Of these, over 650 million were obese—a number equivalent to roughly twice the population of the United States. And most of the world’s population lives in countries in which obesity kills more people […]

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Through the Goal Post: Evaluating the Psychological Value of Goal Achievement

A basic assumption of human nature is that we all want the greatest reward for the least amount of effort.  Take for example the students in my class. Often they apply just enough effort to earn a satisfactory grade (e.g., a low B or high C), while avoiding extra-credit assignments like the plague. But in […]

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Hungry Eyes See More Cookies: Food Deprivation and Perceptual Discrimination

Are you hungry, yet? How long has it been since you have eaten? Are you cranky and tired? I am as I write this piece.  I went on an unexpected food deprivation plan, thanks to a recent trip to Central America. I can’t wait to eat more than toast, applesauce, and bananas again. Food deprivation […]

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