BERRIDGE LAB – Department of Psychology

Berridge Lab

Affective Neuroscience & Biopsychology

We aim to improve understanding of neural mechanisms of emotion, motivation, learning and reward. Our topics include the psychology and neurobiology of pleasure and desire, with implications for motivational disorders such as drug addiction and eating disorders.

How is pleasure generated in the brain?
What are the neural bases of wanting and liking?
How are rewards learned?
How is learning transformed into incentive motivation?
How do brain motivation systems work?
What causes addiction?
How does the brain distinguish pleasant from unpleasant?
How does fear relate to desire?
Can an emotion ever be truly unconscious?

Photo at left: Optogenetic brain stimulation painlessly enhances and narrowly focuses ‘wanting’ onto a reward target paired with laser stimulations. This produces a prototype of addictive motivation, in which focused ‘wanting’ far exceeds ‘liking’ for the same target, helping to reveal how brain circuitry causes addictions.

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