Reward system

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Overview

In neuroscience, the reward system is a collection of brain structures which attempts to regulate and control behavior by inducing pleasurable effects. The major neurochemical pathway of the reward system involves the mesocorticolimbic pathway (MCLP). The major chemical in the reward system is dopamine.

A reward is a process that reinforces behavior — something that, when offered, causes a behavior to increase in intensity. Reward is an operational concept for describing the positive value an individual ascribes to an object, behavioral act or an internal physical state. Primary rewards include those that are necessary for the survival of the species, such as food, water, and sex. Some people include shelter in primary reward. Secondary rewards derive their value from the primary reward and include money, pleasant touch, beautiful faces, music etc. The functions of rewards are based directly on the modification of behavior and less directly on the physical and sensory properties of rewards. Rewards induce learning, approach behaviour and feelings of positive emotions.


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