MIT Neuroscientists Identify Brain Circuit That Drives Pleasure-Inducing Behavior

Scientists have long believed that the central amygdala, a structure located deep within the brain, is linked with fear and responses to unpleasant events. However, a team of MIT neuroscientists has now discovered a circuit in this structure that responds to rewarding events. In a study of mice, activating this circuit with certain stimuli made the animals seek those stimuli further. The researchers also found a circuit that controls responses to fearful events, but most of the neurons in the central amygdala are involved in the reward circuit, they report. “It’s surprising that positive-behavior-promoting subsets are so abundant, which is contrary to what many people in the field have been thinking,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. Read more

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Heri Marco

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