The wide use in daily life of the concept of mental effort points to a psychological construct that is dually perceived as capable of influencing significantly the quality of an action and, on the other hand, as imposing an important cost on the action itself. Despite its practical and theoretical interest, particularly for the neuroscience of executive function, mental effort is a surprisingly neglected area of investigation. In this proposal, we aim at elucidating the relationship among the degree of invested mental effort, its subjective perception, and its effects on cognitive performance, along with the neural circuitry underlying effort processing. The study will employ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an effortful mental task, complemented by the collection of relevant behavioral, psychological, physiological,, and brain morphological measures.
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