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Motivation — What Drives Us, from Achieving Goals to Addiction

Host: Dr. Lauren Wolfe, Co-founder & Chief Clinical Officer, Annum Health and Associate Training Director, Health Psychology Program, CPMC

Subject Matter Experts: Dr. Rob Malenka, Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Dr. Anna Lembke, Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, Dr. Casey Halpern, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University, and Matt Loper, Founder, Wellth, and Brie Linkenhoker, Founder, Worldview Studio

Dopamine, the “motivation molecule,” drives us to fulfill our most rational needs and achieve our goals. An essential determinant of adaptive behavior, it allows us to concentrate and resist impulses. But its neural pathways also underlie our most irrational addictive behaviors. In the age of mass misuse and addiction to substances such as alcohol and opioids, how can recent advances in our understanding of motivation allow us to develop novel treatment approaches and enact policies that address both the biological and psychosocial needs of today’s patients? What could go wrong if our growing scientific understanding allows us to hack our motivation systems?

This discussion will focus on opportunities and challenges pertaining to new levers that might create large-scale shifts in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.