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Turnbull, O. (2002). Research Digest The Neurobiology of Reward, Aggression and Pain. Neuropsychoanalysis, 4(1):125-128.

(2002). Neuropsychoanalysis, 4(1):125-128

Research Digest The Neurobiology of Reward, Aggression and Pain

Review by:
Oliver Turnbull

Featured Article

Schultz, W. (1999), The reward signal of midbrain dopamine neurons. News in Physiological Science, 14: 249-255.

Schultz, W. (2001), Multiple reward signals in the brain. Nature Neuroscience Reviews, 1: 199-207. Many of us working in neuropsychoanalysis have found much to learn from the work of Jaak Panksepp—whose text (Affective Neuroscience) has become something of a “bible” for those with an interest in the neurobiology of affect. One of Panksepp's core findings is the importance of the so-called “SEEKING” system: whose basis relies on mesocortical-mesolimbic dopamine. Panksepp has especially stressed (unlike other researchers) that this system is not a simple “reward” system—but rather that it rewards the investigation of “novelty” in the world, as captured by Panksepp's previous (though cumbersome) label of the “curiosity-interest-expectancy” system. The work of Wolfram Schultz appears to have demonstrated the way in which such a “novelty-reward” system might be designed—and the papers above review a decade of his group's work of single-cell recordings in primates. Schultz's work demonstrates that dopamine function in this system increases for anticipated, but not for unanticipated rewards; and that dopamine function is depressed when anticipated rewards do not arrive. Thus, the system does not code reward per se, but for the difference between expected and actual reward.

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