Catecholaminergic modulation of the avoidance of cognitive control

Monja Frobose, Jennifer Swart, Jennifer Cook, Dirk Geurts, Hanneke E M Den Ouden, Roshan Cools

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
350 Downloads (Pure)


The catecholamines have long been associated with cognitive control and value-based decision-making. More recently, we proposed that the catecholamines might modulate value-based decision-making about whether or not to engage in cognitive control. We test this hypothesis by assessing effects of a catecholamine challenge in a large sample of young, healthy adults (n = 100) on the avoidance of a cognitively demanding control process: task switching. Prolonging catecholamine transmission by blocking reuptake with methylphenidate altered the avoidance, but not the execution of cognitive control. Crucially, these effects could be isolated by taking into account individual differences in trait impulsivity, so that participants with higher trait impulsivity became more avoidant of cognitive control, despite faster task performance. One implication of these findings is that performance-enhancing effects of methylphenidate may be accompanied by an undermining effect on the willingness to exert cognitive control. Taken together, these findings integrate hitherto segregated literatures on catecholamines’ roles in value-based learning/choice and cognitive control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1781
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • cognitive effort
  • methylphenidate
  • task switching
  • cognitive control
  • avoidance learning
  • dopamine


Dive into the research topics of 'Catecholaminergic modulation of the avoidance of cognitive control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this