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The Motivation Circuit: How Motivation Works

The Motivation Circuit Video Transcription

“Motivation” is the term we use to describe a power surge from the emotional region of the brain.

When the emotional region of your brain is happy, comfortable, and engaged, it makes a lot of brain chemicals. This provides a hefty power boost the rest of the brain, making learning happen with ease.

When the emotional region of your brain feels anything negative – annoyed, anxious, worried, or fearful it actually STEALS chemicals from other regions of your brain to stay on alert, to protect you from danger.

Emotions are the “on/off switch” to learning.

If emotions are down, your brain literally runs out of power for learning.

This understanding is especially critical for students with learning challenges because they are often successful with things they like, but seem “unmotivated” by things they don’t.

They may perform well for a teacher they like, while failing a class with a teacher they don’t like.

These situations cause parents and teachers to say things such as,

“He can be successful… when he applies himself.”

“He can do it… when he WANTS to!”

These statements are biologically true.

But, they are often delivered as criticisms, with large doses of disappointment.

These criticisms ignore a critical function of the brain… the power of the Motivation Circuit.

Instead of “criticizing,” SOAR® Learning & Soft Skills builds positive emotions by:

  • Focusing on students’ strengths.
  • Teaching effective tools for building pathways to success.
  • Teaching information that is relevant to life experiences and the needs of the future workplace.
  • And bringing joy to the learning process.

The Motivation Circuit must be “on” before any learning can take place.


We will be featuring the more brain biology videos in the weeks to come. To watch the whole series now, click here.

To our students’ success,

Susan Kruger, M.Ed.
Creator of SOAR

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