Perspectives on Behavioural Function of Dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens

Re: Breadth mint or candy? What is reward, anyway??

John Salamone

Whenever I am asked if DA in accumbens is involved in "reward", I myself have to ask "what do you mean by the use of that term?".  I think that "reward" is probably the most misused term in neuroscience, and no one knows quite what it means because everyone uses it differently.  Some people talk about pleasure or hedonia, and some talk about motivation and appetite, while others emphasize learning and associations.  

I remember reading an article years ago about economic reforms in China.  When asked if some of the reforms were really "socialist", a Chinese official remarked "We will try many things, and whatever works we will still call socialism".  I think that many advocates of the DA/reward (a.k.a. "anhedonia") hypothesis have an equally flexible view of what reward actually means, and what the behavioral functions of DA actually are.

The DA hypothesis of "reward" is more than just a hypothesis; for many people it has become a "school" of behavioral neuroscience, which is no more refutable than Freudianism or Behaviorism.

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