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Olds pleasure centers in the brain

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Subsequent research has failed to bring about this brave new world of boundless pleasure, but more recent findings have started to throw new light on the intriguing links between brain mechanisms of pleasure and happiness. We discuss these findings of the underlying neural mechanisms and functional neuroanatomy of pleasure in the brain. In particular we address how they may come to shed light on our understanding of the brain basis of happiness. We also address how understanding of the hedonic brain might help alleviate the suffering caused by the lack of pleasure, anhedonia, which is a central feature of affective disorders such as depression and chronic pain. Just over fifty years ago, psychologists James Olds and Peter Milner, working at McGill University in Canada, carried out their pioneering experiments which discovered that rats would repeatedly press levers to receive tiny jolts of current injected through electrodes implanted deep within their brains Olds and Milner,
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The Functional Neuroanatomy of Pleasure and Happiness

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Pleasure systems in the brain

You may have heard that the brain has a pleasure center that lets us know when something is enjoyable and reinforces the desire for us to perform the same pleasurable action again. This is also called the reward circuit , which includes all kinds of pleasure, from sex to laughter to certain types of drug use. Some of the brain areas impacted by pleasure include:. Although scientists have long been studying the pleasure center, there hadn't been much research about how it relates to sexual pleasure, especially in women. In the late s and the mids, a team of scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands conducted several studies of both men and women to determine brain activity during sexual stimulation. The team used PET scans to illustrate the different areas of the brain that would light up and shut off during sexual activity.
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James Olds

Pleasure is mediated by well-developed mesocorticolimbic circuitry, and serves adaptive functions. In affective disorders anhedonia lack of pleasure or dysphoria negative affect can result from breakdowns of that hedonic system. Human neuroimaging studies indicate that surprisingly similar circuitry is activated by quite diverse pleasures, suggesting a common neural currency shared by all. Wanting for rewards is generated by a large and distributed brain system. Liking, or pleasure itself, is generated by a smaller set of hedonic hotspots within limbic circuitry.
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At the time, he was testing a theory that rats could be motivated by stimulating the reticular formation, a section of the brain stem. His rat subjects would run through a T-maze. Whenever the rat chose one of the two paths to take, a shock would be sent to the reticular formation. Rather than turn towards the path on which they received the stimulation, the rats unanimously avoided that side.
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