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The matter of motivation: Striatal resting-state connectivity is dissociable between grit and growth mindset


The current study utilized resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine how two important non-cognitive skills, grit and growth mindset, are associated with cortico-striatal networks important for learning. Whole-brain seed-to-voxel connectivity was examined for dorsal and ventral striatal seeds. While both grit and growth mindset were associated with functional connectivity between ventral striatal and bilateral prefrontal networks thought to be important for cognitive-behavioral control. There were also clear dissociations between the neural correlates of the two constructs. Grit, the long-term perseverance towards a goal or set of goals, was associated with ventral striatal networks including connectivity to regions such as the medial prefrontal and rostral anterior cingulate cortices implicated in perseverance, delay and receipt of reward. Growth mindset, the belief that effort can improve talents, notably intelligence, was associated with both ventral and dorsal striatal connectivity with regions thought to be important for error-monitoring, such as dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Our findings may help construct neurocognitive models of these non-cognitive skills and have critical implications for character education. Such education is a key component of social and emotional learning, ensuring that children can rise to challenges in the classroom and in life.

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