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Life's rewardsLinking dopamine, incentive learning, schizophrenia, and the mind$
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Richard J. Beninger

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198824091

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198824091.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 March 2021

Dopamine and mental experience

Dopamine and mental experience

(p.330) Chapter 13 Dopamine and mental experience
Life's rewards

Richard J. Beninger

Oxford University Press

Dopamine and mental experience argues that mental experience arises from brain activity. Ratings of “pleasantness” of a meal correlate with dorsal striatal dopamine receptor occupancy. People with schizophrenia, who suffer from hyperdopaminergia, report that stimuli are difficult to shut out and Parkinson’s-like patients, who suffer from hypodopaminergia, report that nothing moves them—they cease to feel happy or sad. Animal studies suggest that drugs produce discriminable effects on their brains that might be like mental experiences in humans, but we have no information about those putative experiences. Without reliable means for evaluating the possible mental experiences of other animals, we should avoid the use of language that implies mental experience when discussing the behavioral neuroscience of nonhuman animals. The terms “reward-related learning” or “incentive learning” may be preferable over terms such as “pleasure” or “wanting” to describe the effects of increased synaptic concentrations of dopamine on the behavior of animals.

Keywords:   behavioral neuroscience, dopamine, incentive learning, mental experience, Parkinson’s disease, pleasure, reward, schizophrenia, wanting

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