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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2010 Jan;35(1):4-26. doi: 10.1038/npp.2009.129. Epub 2010 Jan.

The reward circuit: linking primate anatomy and human imaging.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


Although cells in many brain regions respond to reward, the cortical-basal ganglia circuit is at the heart of the reward system. The key structures in this network are the anterior cingulate cortex, the orbital prefrontal cortex, the ventral striatum, the ventral pallidum, and the midbrain dopamine neurons. In addition, other structures, including the dorsal prefrontal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and lateral habenular nucleus, and specific brainstem structures such as the pedunculopontine nucleus, and the raphe nucleus, are key components in regulating the reward circuit. Connectivity between these areas forms a complex neural network that mediates different aspects of reward processing. Advances in neuroimaging techniques allow better spatial and temporal resolution. These studies now demonstrate that human functional and structural imaging results map increasingly close to primate anatomy.

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