Topic 27: The Reward System in your Brain

Do you ever get a good feeling once you have completed a task, had food, exercised or done something you enjoy? Wonder where you get your motivation from? well this is your brain rewarding you using a special chemical called  dopamine. This is a very special chemical that is important because not only does it give you a good feeling but it helps you to complete tasks. The memory part of the brain will remember the feeling and want to repeat the task you just did to receive the same good feeling.

This system is called the mesolimbic dopamine system, or VTA-NAc circuit. The VTA is the dopaminergic neurons tells the person whether the environment stimulus is rewarding or unpleasant. The NAc or the ventral striatum, is where this chemical comes from. This system requires the use of seven other parts of the brain, but they do not function separately but as whole.

  • The amygdala part of the brain determines whether the activity/experience was good or bad and consults the memory part of the brain to work it out.
  • The hippocampus holds the thought, feeling and memories helping other parts of the brain to do their job by providing information for them to determine.
  • The hypothalamus, this part of the brain helps to coordinate the persons interest and the bodies physiological state
  • Frontal regions of cerebral cortex: medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex and orbitofrontal cortex, decide what the person wants and what their choices are
  • The locus coeruleus and the dorsal raphe, work together to make changes the action of the human to match their mood and  state of activation

This chemical gets passed from neutron to neutron in your brain and reacting to receptor in the brain at the same time. From here it matters which path the dopamine goes, depends on the next action e.g. from the centre of the brain where it takes place it could go to the cerebral cortex. The effects of this chemical comes in many ways and effects lots of different areas including: motivation, memory, behaviour and cognition, attention, sleep, mood, learning, and, pleasurable reward.braindop


“The vocabulary pleasure depends on the imagery of  pain”- Marine Warner


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