Habits and goals: a motivational perspective on action control

Ahmet O. Ceceli, Elizabeth Tricomi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Two distinct systems govern the motivational control of action: first, cue-driven, outcome-insensitive habits, and second, value-based, goal-directed behaviors. These separate but interactive systems are based in distinct neural circuits — habitual behaviors are driven by a circuit of putamen-thalamic-motor regions, whereas value-based decision making relies on a top-down PFC-caudate network. This review highlights the recent advancements in behavioral science that investigate the motivational underpinnings of habits, situates contemporary behavioral methods into a framework of motivation, and identifies motivational aspects of habit-based pathologies. We also contextualize the recent literature on habits to highlight the necessity of improving our methods and promoting future research attempts to yield translational value (e.g. restoring flexibility in rigid habits).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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