Dopamine's role in the Psychological Architecture of Pleasure and Reward

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Dopamine's role in the psychological architecture of pleasure and reward indicates that it is a major element in the determination of reinforcement (Arias-Carrión & Pöppel, 2007, p. 484). This role was postulated from the discovery of dopamine in reward pathways that are found originating from the midbrain (2). From these discoveries, it has been shown that dopamine has a profound impact upon the existence of “reward-seeking behaviors” (Arias-Carrión & Pöppel, 2007, p. 481). A 2006 study done by Mathias Pessiglione and his colleagues demonstrated that subjects given L-DOPA, a precursor to dopamine, were more likely to remember decisions that led to rewards and continue to make those decisions (3). While the experiment central to this study …show more content…
However, dopamine's effects are not restricted to the regulation of reinforcement and pleasure. This neurotransmitter also affects physiological mechanisms through its contribution to voluntary movement. While dopamine does not necessarily allow for the initiation or control of specific movements, it has implications for the proper functioning and regulation of motor control (4). The fact that dopamine has not been linked to specific movement functions makes it difficult to understand this neurotransmitter's implications for voluntary movement, however. Nonetheless, conclusions can be reached through studies that have been done upon people who suffer from Parkinson's disease, which is a disorder characterized by involuntary muscle movements and tremors. These conclusions are achieved through an examination of lesioning within the brain and show that lesions associated with Parkinson's disease are found in areas of the brain from which dopamine originates (5). Thus, a conclusion can be made that dopamine helps to regulate proper motor functioning in a generalized way. This generalized functioning, coupled with the broad response that dopamine pathways have to rewarding behaviors, can help to demonstrate that dopamine's functions are regulatory in nature and are not focused on specific
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