Dissociable Motivational Deficits in Pre-manifest Huntington's Disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Motivation is characterized by a willingness to overcome both cognitive and physical effort costs. Impairments in motivation are common in striatal disorders, such as Huntington's disease (HD), but whether these impairments are isolated to particular domains of behavior is controversial. We ask whether HD differentially affects the willingness of individuals to overcome cognitive versus physical effort. We tested 20 individuals with pre-manifest HD and compared their behavior to 20 controls. Across separate trials, participants made choices about how much cognitive or physical effort they were willing to invest for reward. Our key results were that individuals with pre-manifest HD were less willing than controls to invest cognitive effort but were no different in their overall preference for physical effort. These results cannot be explained by group differences in neuropsychological or psychiatric profiles. This dissociation of cognitive- and physical-effort-based decisions provides important evidence for separable, domain-specific mechanisms of motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100152
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2020


  • apathy
  • cognitive effort
  • decision making
  • effort discounting
  • Huntington's disease
  • motivation
  • physical effort
  • reward
  • striatum

Cite this