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Behav Brain Res. 2009 Jan 23;196(2):155-67. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.09.038. Epub 2008 Oct 8.

Ventral pallidum roles in reward and motivation.

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


In recent years the ventral pallidum has become a focus of great research interest as a mechanism of reward and incentive motivation. As a major output for limbic signals, the ventral pallidum was once associated primarily with motor functions rather than regarded as a reward structure in its own right. However, ample evidence now suggests that ventral pallidum function is a major mechanism of reward in the brain. We review data indicating that (1) an intact ventral pallidum is necessary for normal reward and motivation, (2) stimulated activation of ventral pallidum is sufficient to cause reward and motivation enhancements, and (3) activation patterns in ventral pallidum neurons specifically encode reward and motivation signals via phasic bursts of excitation to incentive and hedonic stimuli. We conclude that the ventral pallidum may serve as an important 'limbic final common pathway' for mesocorticolimbic processing of many rewards.

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