Research Overview

Publications from Berridge Lab are available on Publications page for free download for personal scholarly use

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.


Our research seeks answers to fundamental questions:

  • 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?
  • How are complex streams of real behavior produced by brains?
  • What goes wrong in action disorders (Parkinson’s, OCD, or Tourettes’ )?

Affective neuroscience of liking & wanting: Roots of pleasure and desire.

In our affective neuroscience laboratory we study brain systems of sensory pleasure ‘liking’ (such as for sweetness) and of incentive salience ‘wanting’ (a type of desire). Our research has applications to human drug addiction, eating disorders and mood disorders, to consumption choices, and conscious and unconscious emotion involved in everyday life.