Brown, Psychology

Weighing the costs and benefits of control

Cognitive control is known to be effortful, yet little is known about how we allocate effort. I will describe recent theoretical and empirical work aimed at understanding this process through the lens of value-based decision-making. On this view, individuals choose how much and what kind of control to allocate according to the predicted costs and benefits associated with increased effort. These combine to determine the Expected Value of Control (EVC). The EVC framework accounts for interactions between incentives, cognitive performance, and task choice observed in behavioral performance. This work provides a path towards understanding why we may not always choose to make the effort demanded by our academic, work, or social environment, and how variability in these circuits will lead to maladaptive allocation of cognitive control in particular clinical populations.