Self-Stimulation of the Brain

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Science  14 Feb 1958:
Vol. 127, Issue 3294, pp. 315-324
DOI: 10.1126/science.127.3294.315


My conclusions are these: (i) The cells which mediate primary rewarding effects are located in a midline system running from the midbrain through the hypothalamus and midline thalamus and into the subcortical and cortical groups of the rhinencephalon. (ii) The cell groups which mediate primary rewarding effects are different from those which mediate primary punishing effects. (iii) Despite this relative independence, there are, undoubtedly, relationships of mutual inhibition existing between these two systems. Rewards do, among other things, tend to reduce sensitivity to pain, and punishments do tend to reduce rewarding effects. (iv) These primary reward systems of the brain are subdivided into specific drive-reward subsystems mediating the specific drives such as hunger and sex. (v) Because there are also subsystems of this set of rewarding structures sensitive to different chemical effects, it is reasonable to hope that eventually it will be possible to control the reward systems pharmacologically in cases where behavior disorders seem to result from deficits or surfeits of positive motivation.

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