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Predicting cognitive effort: role of mental energy, performance feedback, arithmetic skill, and caffeine
  • Gamze Bilgen,
  • Dilce Tanriverdi,
  • Daniela Schulz
Gamze Bilgen

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Dilce Tanriverdi
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Daniela Schulz
Yeditepe University, Yeditepe University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

Cognitive effort and mental energy are considered distinct but may have overlapping neural substrates pertaining to the dopamine system. To shed light on this conflict, here we assessed the contributions of different types of energy to effortful decision-making in a low-cost, high-throughput behavioral task that we designed to measure known dopaminergic functions. We found that a) our task showed valid performance, b) high energy individuals made more high effort choices when rewards were likely; low energy individuals made fewer high effort choices, even when the rewards were likely, c) high and low energy individuals prioritized different kinds of performance feedback, and d) arithmetic accuracy under high effort conditions was predicted by an index of arithmetic skill and caffeine consumption. Shared variances between mental energy, arithmetic accuracy, and cognitive effort point to overlapping substrates. Insights gained have important implications for job and academic environments in which mental effort is key to success.