How the brain determines the vigor of goal-directed movements is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Recent evidence has suggested that vigor results from a trade-off between a cost related to movement production (cost of movement) and a cost related to our brain's tendency to temporally discount the value of future reward (cost of time). However, whether it is critical to hypothesize a cost of time to explain the vigor of basic reaching movements with intangible reward is unclear because the cost of movement may be theoretically sufficient for this purpose. Here we directly address this issue by designing an isometric reaching task whose completion can be accurate and effortless in prefixed durations. The cost of time hypothesis predicts that participants should be prone to spend energy to save time even if the task can be accomplished at virtually no motor cost. Accordingly, we found that all participants generated substantial amounts of force to invigorate task accomplishment, especially when the prefixed duration was long enough. Remarkably, the time saved by each participant was linked to their original vigor in the task and predicted by an optimal control model balancing out movement and time costs. Taken together, these results support the existence of an idiosyncratic, cognitive cost of time that underlies the invigoration of basic isometric reaching movements.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Movement vigor is generally thought to result from a trade-off between time and motor costs. However, it remains unclear whether the time cost only modulates vigor around some nominal value explained by a minimal motor cost or whether it determines movement invigoration more broadly. Here, we present an original paradigm allowing us to neutralize the cost of movement and provide new evidence that a cost of time must underlie the invigoration of isometric reaching movements.
Evidence for a cost of time in the invigoration of isometric reaching movements / Berret, Bastien; Baud-Bovy, Gabriel. - In: JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY. - ISSN 0022-3077. - 127:3(2022), pp. 689-701. [10.1152/jn.00536.2021]