Missing motoric manipulations: rethinking the imaging of the ventral striatum and dopamine in human reward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Human neuroimaging studies of natural rewards and drugs of abuse frequently assay the brain’s response to stimuli that, through Pavlovian learning, have come to be associated with a drug’s rewarding properties. This might be characterized as a ‘sensorial’ view of the brain’s reward system, insofar as the paradigms are designed to elicit responses to a reward’s (drug’s) sight, aroma, or flavor. A different field of research nevertheless suggests that the mesolimbic dopamine system may also be critically involved in the motor behaviors provoked by such stimuli. This brief review and commentary surveys some of the preclinical data supporting this more “efferent” (motoric) view of the brain’s reward system, and discusses what such findings might mean for how human brain imaging studies of natural rewards and drugs of abuse are designed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2019



  • Addiction
  • Dopamine
  • Motor
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • PET
  • Reward
  • Ventral striatum
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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