Achievement motivation can be defined as a recurrent need to improve one's past performance. Despite previous functional imaging studies on motivation-related functional activation, the relationship between regional gray matter (rGM) morphology and achievement motivation has never been investigated. We used voxel-based morphometry and a questionnaire (achievement motivation scale) to measure individual achievement motivation and investigated the association between rGM density (rGMD) and achievement motivation [self-fulfillment achievement motivation (SFAM) and competitive achievement motivation (CAM) across the brain in healthy young adults (age 21.0 ± 1.8 years, men (n = 94), women (n = 91)]. SFAM and rGMD significantly and negatively correlated in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). CAM and rGMD significantly and positively correlated in the right putamen, insula, and precuneus. These results suggest that the brain areas that play central roles in externally modulated motivation (OFC and putamen) also contribute to SFAM and CAM, respectively, but in different ways. Furthermore, the brain areas in which rGMD correlated with CAM are related to cognitive processes associated with distressing emotions and social cognition, and these cognitive processes may characterize CAM.
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