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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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Dopamine and reward-related learning

Dopamine and reward-related learning

(p.23) Chapter 2 Dopamine and reward-related learning
Life's rewards

Richard J. Beninger

Oxford University Press

Dopamine and reward-related learning describes how the intellectual influence of behaviorism declined in the middle of the twentieth century as descriptions of behavioral phenomena that violated the putative laws of learning accumulated. Incentive theory along with an ethological perspective that emphasized animals’ specific behavioral adaptations for survival in their natural environment provided an alternative. Thus, rewarding stimuli produce incentive learning, the acquisition of neutral stimuli of an increased ability to elicit approach and other responses. The reward-related learning effects of food were shown to depend on dopamine and dopamine was implicated in avoidance learning. Results suggest that in untrained animals, tested while in a dopamine-depleted state, conditioned incentive stimuli fail to acquire the ability to elicit approach and other responses; in trained animals tested while in a dopamine-depleted state, conditioned incentive stimuli gradually lose their ability to elicit approach and other responses.

Keywords:   avoidance learning, behaviorism, conditioned incentive stimuli, dopamine, incentive theory, learning, reinforcement, reward

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