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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Nov;37(9 Pt A):1985-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.02.017. Epub 2013 Mar 1.

Principles of motivation revealed by the diverse functions of neuropharmacological and neuroanatomical substrates underlying feeding behavior.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA; Neuroscience Training program, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, 6001 Research Park Blvd., Madison, WI 53719, USA. Electronic address:


Circuits that participate in specific subcomponents of feeding (e.g., gustatory perception, peripheral feedback relevant to satiety and energy balance, reward coding, etc.) are found at all levels of the neural axis. Further complexity is conferred by the wide variety of feeding-modulatory neurotransmitters and neuropeptides that act within these circuits. An ongoing challenge has been to refine the understanding of the functional specificity of these neurotransmitters and circuits, and there have been exciting advances in recent years. We focus here on foundational work of Dr. Ann Kelley that identified distinguishable actions of striatal opioid peptide modulation and dopamine transmission in subcomponents of reward processing. We also discuss her work in overlaying these neuropharmacological effects upon anatomical pathways that link the telencephalon (cortex and basal ganglia) with feeding-control circuits in the hypothalamus. Using these seminal contributions as a starting point, we will discuss new findings that expand our understanding of (1) the specific, differentiable motivational processes that are governed by central dopamine and opioid transmission, (2) the manner in which other striatal neuromodulators, specifically acetylcholine, endocannabinoids and adenosine, modulate these motivational processes (including via interactions with opioid systems), and (3) the organization of the cortical-subcortical network that subserves opioid-driven feeding. The findings discussed here strengthen the view that incentive-motivational properties of food are coded by substrates and neural circuits that are distinguishable from those that mediate the acute hedonic experience of food reward. Striatal opioid transmission modulates reward processing by engaging frontotemporal circuits, possibly via a hypothalamic-thalamic axis, that ultimately impinges upon hypothalamic modules dedicated to autonomic function and motor pattern control. We will conclude by discussing implications for understanding disorders of "non-homeostatic" feeding.


Acetylcholine; Amygdala; Dopamine; Feeding; Hypothalamus; Motivation; Nucleus accumbens; Opioid; Reward

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