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Pleasure is a broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment, ecstasy, and euphoria. The early psychological concept of pleasure, the pleasure principle, describes it as a positive feedback mechanism that motivates the organism to recreate the situation it has just found pleasurable, and to avoid past situations that caused pain.
Happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.
Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but is more likely to be one of the activities or events that have developed over thousands of years specifically for the purpose of keeping an audience's attention. Although people's attention is held by different things, because individuals have different preferences in entertainment, most forms are recognisable and familiar. Storytelling, music, drama, dance, and different kinds of performance exist in all cultures, were supported in royal courts, developed into sophisticated forms and over time became available to all citizens. The process has been accelerated in modern times by an entertainment industry that records and sells entertainment products. Entertainment evolves and can be adapted to suit any scale, ranging from an individual who chooses a private entertainment from a now enormous array of pre-recorded products; to a banquet adapted for two; to any size or type of party, with appropriate music and dance; to performances intended for thousands; and even for a global audience.
Ecstasy is a subjective experience of total involvement of the subject, with an object of their awareness. In classical Greek literature it refers to removal of the mind or body "from its normal place of function."
The experience of pleasure is subjective and different individuals experience different kinds and amounts of pleasure in the same situation. Many pleasurable experiences are associated with satisfying basic biological drives, such as eating, exercise, hygiene, sleep, and sex.The appreciation of cultural artifacts and activities such as art, music, dancing, and literature is often pleasurable.
Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:
Eating is the ingestion of food, typically to provide a heterotrophic organism with energy and to allow for growth. Animals and other heterotrophs must eat in order to survive — carnivores eat other animals, herbivores eat plants, omnivores consume a mixture of both plant and animal matter, and detritivores eat detritus. Fungi digest organic matter outside their bodies as opposed to animals that digest their food inside their bodies. For humans, eating is an activity of daily living. Some individuals may limit their amount of nutritional intake. This may be a result of a lifestyle choice, due to hunger or famine, as part of a diet or as religious fasting.
Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, preventing aging, developing muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, improving health and also for enjoyment. Many individuals choose to exercise outdoors where they can congregate in groups, socialize, and enhance well-being.
Based upon the incentive salience model of reward – the attractive and motivational property of a stimulus that induces approach behavior and consummatory behavior– an intrinsic reward has two components: a "wanting" or desire component that is reflected in approach behavior, and a "liking" or pleasure component that is reflected in consummatory behavior. While all pleasurable stimuli are rewards, some rewards do not evoke pleasure.
The reward system is a group of neural structures responsible for incentive salience, associative learning, and positively-valenced emotions, particularly ones which involve pleasure as a core component. Reward is the attractive and motivational property of a stimulus that induces appetitive behavior, also known as approach behavior, and consummatory behavior. In its description of a rewarding stimulus, a review on reward neuroscience noted, "any stimulus, object, event, activity, or situation that has the potential to make us approach and consume it is by definition a reward." In operant conditioning, rewarding stimuli function as positive reinforcers; however, the converse statement also holds true: positive reinforcers are rewarding.
Pleasure is a component of reward, but not all rewards are pleasurable (e.g., money does not elicit pleasure unless this response is conditioned).Stimuli that are naturally pleasurable, and therefore attractive, are known as intrinsic rewards, whereas stimuli that are attractive and motivate approach behavior, but are not inherently pleasurable, are termed extrinsic rewards. Extrinsic rewards (e.g., money) are rewarding as a result of a learned association with an intrinsic reward. In other words, extrinsic rewards function as motivational magnets that elicit "wanting", but not "liking" reactions once they have been acquired.
The reward system contains pleasure centers or hedonic hotspots – i.e., brain structures that mediate pleasure or "liking" reactions from intrinsic rewards. As of October 2017, [update] hedonic hotspots have been identified in subcompartments within the nucleus accumbens shell, ventral pallidum, parabrachial nucleus, orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), and insular cortex. The hotspot within the nucleus accumbens shell is located in the rostrodorsal quadrant of the medial shell, while the hedonic coldspot is located in a more posterior region. The posterior ventral pallidum also contains a hedonic hotspot, while the anterior ventral pallidum contains a hedonic coldspot. Microinjections of opioids, endocannabinoids, and orexin are capable of enhancing liking in these hotspots. The hedonic hotspots located in the anterior OFC and posterior insula have been demonstrated to respond to orexin and opioids, as has the overlapping hedonic coldspot in the anterior insula and posterior OFC. On the other hand, the parabrachial nucleus hotspot has only been demonstrated to respond to benzodiazepine receptor agonists.
The ventral pallidum (VP) is a structure within the basal ganglia of the brain. It is an output nucleus whose fibres project to thalamic nuclei, such as the ventral anterior nucleus, the ventral lateral nucleus, and the medial dorsal nucleus. The VP is a core component of the reward system which forms part of the limbic loop of the basal ganglia, a pathway involved in the regulation of motivational salience, behavior, and emotions. It is involved in addiction.
The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is a prefrontal cortex region in the frontal lobes of the brain which is involved in the cognitive process of decision-making. In non-human primates it consists of the association cortex areas Brodmann area 11, 12 and 13; in humans it consists of Brodmann area 10, 11 and 47.
In each hemisphere of the mammalian brain the insular cortex is a portion of the cerebral cortex folded deep within the lateral sulcus.
Hedonic hotspots are functionally linked, in that activation of one hotspot results in the recruitment of the others, as indexed by the induced expression of c-Fos, an immediate early gene. Furthermore, inhibition of one hotspot results in the blunting of the effects of activating another hotspot.Therefore, the simultaneous activation of every hedonic hotspot within the reward system is believed to be necessary for generating the sensation of an intense euphoria.
In the fields of molecular biology and genetics, c-Fos is a proto-oncogene that is the human homolog of the retroviral oncogene v-fos. It was first discovered in rat fibroblasts as the transforming gene of the FBJ MSV. It is a part of a bigger Fos family of transcription factors which includes c-Fos, FosB, Fra-1 and Fra-2. It has been mapped to chromosome region 14q21→q31. c-Fos encodes a 62 kDa protein, which forms heterodimer with c-jun, resulting in the formation of AP-1 complex which binds DNA at AP-1 specific sites at the promoter and enhancer regions of target genes and converts extracellular signals into changes of gene expression. It plays an important role in many cellular functions and has been found to be overexpressed in a variety of cancers.
Immediate early genes (IEGs) are genes which are activated transiently and rapidly in response to a wide variety of cellular stimuli. They represent a standing response mechanism that is activated at the transcription level in the first round of response to stimuli, before any new proteins are synthesized. Thus IEGs are distinct from "late response" genes, which can only be activated later, following the synthesis of early response gene products. Thus IEGs have been called the "gateway to the genomic response". The term can describe viral regulatory proteins that are synthesized following viral infection of a host cell, or cellular proteins that are made immediately following stimulation of a resting cell by extracellular signals.
Euphoria is the experience of pleasure or excitement and intense feelings of well-being and happiness. Certain natural rewards and social activities, such as aerobic exercise, laughter, listening to or making music, and dancing, can induce a state of euphoria. Euphoria is also a symptom of certain neurological or neuropsychiatric disorders, such as mania. Romantic love and components of the human sexual response cycle are also associated with the induction of euphoria. Certain drugs, many of which are addictive, can cause euphoria, which at least partially motivates their recreational use.
Pleasure is considered one of the core dimensions of emotion. It can be described as the positive evaluation that forms the basis for several more elaborate evaluations such as "agreeable" or "nice". As such, pleasure is an affect and not an emotion, as it forms one component of several different emotions.Pleasure is sometimes subdivided into fundamental pleasures that are closely related to survival (food, sex, and social belonging) and higher-order pleasures (e.g., viewing art and altruism). The clinical condition of being unable to experience pleasure from usually enjoyable activities is called anhedonia. An active aversion to obtaining pleasure is called hedonophobia.
Pleasure is often regarded as a bipolar construct, meaning that the two ends of the spectrum from pleasant to unpleasant are mutually exclusive. This view is e.g. inherent in the circumplex model of affect.Yet, some lines of research suggest that people do experience pleasant and unpleasant feelings at the same time, giving rise to so-called mixed feelings.
The degree to which something or someone is experienced as pleasurable not only depends on its objective attributes (appearance, sound, taste, texture, etc.), but on beliefs about its history, about the circumstances of its creation, about its rarity, fame, or price, and on other non-intrinsic attributes, such as the social status or identity it conveys. For example, a sweater that has been worn by a celebrity is more desired than an otherwise identical sweater that has not, though considerably less so if it has been washed.Another example was when Grammy-winning, internationally acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell played in the Washington D.C. subway for 43 minutes, attracting little attention from the 1,097 people who passed by, and earning about $59 in tips. Paul Bloom describes these phenomena as arising from a form of essentialism.
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Epicurus and his followers defined the highest pleasure as the absence of sufferingand pleasure itself as "freedom from pain in the body and freedom from turmoil in the soul". According to Cicero (or rather his character Torquatus) Epicurus also believed that pleasure was the chief good and pain the chief evil.
In the 12th century Razi's "Treatise of the Self and the Spirit" (Kitab al Nafs Wa’l Ruh) analyzed different types of pleasure, sensuous and intellectual, and explained their relations with one another. He concludes that human needs and desires are endless, and "their satisfaction is by definition impossible."
The 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer understood pleasure as a negative sensation, one that negates the usual existential condition of suffering.
Utilitarianism and hedonism are philosophies that advocate increasing to the maximum the amount of pleasure and minimizing the amount of suffering.
In the past, there has been debate as to whether pleasure is experienced by other animals rather than being an exclusive property of humankind; however, it is now known that animals do experience pleasure, as measured by objective behavioral and neural hedonic responses to pleasurable stimuli.
The striatum, or corpus striatum is a nucleus in the subcortical basal ganglia of the forebrain. The striatum is a critical component of the motor and reward systems; receives glutamatergic and dopaminergic inputs from different sources; and serves as the primary input to the rest of the basal ganglia.
Dopamine is an organic chemical of the catecholamine and phenethylamine families. It functions both as a hormone and a neurotransmitter, and plays several important roles in the brain and body. It is an amine synthesized by removing a carboxyl group from a molecule of its precursor chemical L-DOPA, which is synthesized in the brain and kidneys. Dopamine is also synthesized in plants and most animals. In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. The anticipation of most types of rewards increases the level of dopamine in the brain, and many addictive drugs increase dopamine release or block its reuptake into neurons following release. Other brain dopamine pathways are involved in motor control and in controlling the release of various hormones. These pathways and cell groups form a dopamine system which is neuromodulatory.
Anhedonia is a diverse array of deficits in hedonic function, including reduced motivation or ability to experience pleasure. While earlier definitions of anhedonia emphasized the inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia is used by researchers to refer to reduced motivation, reduced anticipatory pleasure (wanting), reduced consummatory pleasure (liking), and deficits in reinforcement learning. In the DSM-5, anhedonia is a component of depressive disorders, substance related disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders, where it is defined by either a reduced ability to experience pleasure, or a diminished interest in engaging in pleasurable activities. While the ICD-10 does not explicitly mention anhedonia, the depressive symptom analogous to anhedonia as described in the DSM-V is a loss of interest or pleasure.
The mesolimbic pathway, sometimes referred to as the reward pathway, is a dopaminergic pathway in the brain. The pathway connects the ventral tegmental area in the midbrain, to the ventral striatum of the basal ganglia in the forebrain. The ventral striatum includes the nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle. The release of dopamine from the mesolimbic pathway into the nucleus accumbens regulates incentive salience and facilitates reinforcement and reward-related motor function learning; it may also play a role in the subjective perception of pleasure. The dysregulation of the mesolimbic pathway and its output neurons in the nucleus accumbens plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of an addiction.
The nucleus accumbens, also known as the accumbens nucleus, or formerly as the nucleus accumbens septi is a region in the basal forebrain rostral to the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. The nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle collectively form the ventral striatum. The ventral striatum and dorsal striatum collectively form the striatum, which is the main component of the basal ganglia. The dopaminergic neurons of the mesolimbic pathway project onto the GABAergic medium spiny neurons of the nucleus accumbens and olfactory tubercle. Each cerebral hemisphere has its own nucleus accumbens, which can be divided into two structures: the nucleus accumbens core and the nucleus accumbens shell. These substructures have different morphology and functions.
Dopaminergic pathways, sometimes called dopaminergic projections, are the sets of projection neurons in the brain that synthesize and release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Individual neurons in these pathways are referred to as dopamine neurons. Dopamine neurons have axons that run the entire length of the pathway. The neurons' somata produce the enzymes that synthesize dopamine, and they are then transmitted via the projecting axons to their synaptic destinations, where most of the dopamine is produced. Dopaminergic nerve cell bodies in such areas as the substantia nigra pars compacta tend to be pigmented due to the presence of the black pigment melanin. Dopaminergic pathways are involved in many functions such as executive function, learning, reward, motivation, and neuroendocrine control. Dysfunction of these pathways and nuclei may be involved in multiple diseases and disorders such as Parkinson's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, addiction, and restless legs syndrome (RLS).
The ventral tegmental area (VTA), also known as the ventral tegmental area of Tsai, or simply ventral tegmentum, is a group of neurons located close to the midline on the floor of the midbrain. The VTA is the origin of the dopaminergic cell bodies of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system and other dopamine pathways; it is widely implicated in the drug and natural reward circuitry of the brain. The VTA plays an important role in a number of processes, including cognition, motivation, orgasm, and intense emotions relating to love, physical attraction, as well as several psychiatric disorders. Neurons in the VTA project to numerous areas of the brain, ranging from the prefrontal cortex to the caudal brainstem and several regions in between.
Motivational salience is a cognitive process and a form of attention that motivates or propels an individual's behavior towards or away from a particular object, perceived event or outcome. Motivational salience regulates the intensity of behaviors that facilitate the attainment of a particular goal, the amount of time and energy that an individual is willing to expend to attain a particular goal, and the amount of risk that an individual is willing to accept while working to attain a particular goal.
Some philosophers, such as Jeremy Bentham, Baruch Spinoza, and Descartes, have hypothesized that the feelings of pain and pleasure are part of a continuum.
The salience of an item – be it an object, a person, a pixel, etc. – is the state or quality by which it stands out from its neighbors. Saliency detection is considered to be a key attentional mechanism that facilitates learning and survival by enabling organisms to focus their limited perceptual and cognitive resources on the most pertinent subset of the available sensory data.
Kent C. Berridge is a professor of psychology (biopsychology) and neuroscience at the University of Michigan in the United States and joint winner of the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology.
Palatability is the hedonic reward provided by foods or fluids that are agreeable to the "palate", which often varies relative to the homeostatic satisfaction of nutritional, water, or energy needs. The palatability of a food or fluid, unlike its flavor or taste, varies with the state of an individual: it is lower after consumption and higher when deprived. It has increasingly been appreciated that this can create a hunger that is independent of homeostatic needs.
Frisson, also known as aesthetic chills, musical chills, and colloquially as a skin orgasm, is a psychophysiological response to rewarding auditory and/or visual stimuli that induces a pleasurable or otherwise positively-valenced affective state and transient paresthesia, sometimes along with piloerection and mydriasis. The sensation commonly occurs as a mildly to moderately pleasurable emotional response to music with skin tingling; piloerection and pupil dilation do not necessarily occur in all cases. The psychological component and physiological components of the response are mediated by the reward system and sympathetic nervous system, respectively. The stimuli that produce this response are unique to each individual.
Desire is a sense of longing or hoping for a person, object, or outcome. The same sense is expressed by emotions such as "craving". When a person desires something or someone, their sense of longing is excited by the enjoyment or the thought of the item or person, and they want to take actions to obtain their goal. The motivational aspect of desire has long been noted by philosophers; Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) asserted that human desire is the fundamental motivation of all human action.
The parabrachial nuclei, also known as the parabrachial complex, are a group of nuclei in the dorsolateral pons that surrounds the superior cerebellar peduncle as it enters the brainstem from the cerebellum. They are named from the Latin term for the superior cerebellar peduncle, the brachium conjunctivum. In the human brain, the expansion of the superior cerebellar peduncle expands the parabrachial nuclei, which form a thin strip of grey matter over most of the peduncle. The parabrachial nuclei are typically divided along the lines suggested by Baxter and Olszewski in humans, into a medial parabrachial nucleus and lateral parabrachial nucleus. These have in turn been subdivided into a dozen subnuclei: the superior, dorsal, ventral, internal, external and extreme lateral subnuclei; the lateral crescent and subparabrachial nucleus along the ventrolateral margin of the lateral parabrachial complex; and the medial and external medial subnuclei
Even though intimacy has been broadly defined in terms of romantic love and sexual desire, the neuroanatomy of intimacy needs further explanation in order to fully understand their neurological functions in different components within intimate relationships, which are romantic love, lust, attachment, and rejection in love. Also, known functions of the neuroanatomy involved can be applied to observations seen in people who are experiencing any of the stages in intimacy. Research analysis of these systems provide insight on the biological basis of intimacy, but the neurological aspect must be considered as well in areas that require special attention to mitigate issues in intimacy, such as violence against a beloved partner or problems with social bonding.
Morten L Kringelbach is a professor of neuroscience at Aarhus University, Denmark and University of Oxford, UK, where his Hedonia Research Group is based. He is a fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford, and is on the advisory board of Scientific American, and a board member of the world's first Empathy Museum.
Rewards in operant conditioning are positive reinforcers. ... Operant behavior gives a good definition for rewards. Anything that makes an individual come back for more is a positive reinforcer and therefore a reward. Although it provides a good definition, positive reinforcement is only one of several reward functions. ... Rewards are attractive. They are motivating and make us exert an effort. ... Rewards induce approach behavior, also called appetitive or preparatory behavior, and consummatory behavior. ... Thus any stimulus, object, event, activity, or situation that has the potential to make us approach and consume it is by definition a reward. ... Rewarding stimuli, objects, events, situations, and activities consist of several major components. First, rewards have basic sensory components (visual, auditory, somatosensory, gustatory, and olfactory) ... Second, rewards are salient and thus elicit attention, which are manifested as orienting responses (FIGURE 1, middle). The salience of rewards derives from three principal factors, namely, their physical intensity and impact (physical salience), their novelty and surprise (novelty/surprise salience), and their general motivational impact shared with punishers (motivational salience). A separate form not included in this scheme, incentive salience, primarily addresses dopamine function in addiction and refers only to approach behavior (as opposed to learning) ... Third, rewards have a value component that determines the positively motivating effects of rewards and is not contained in, nor explained by, the sensory and attentional components (FIGURE 1, right). This component reflects behavioral preferences and thus is subjective and only partially determined by physical parameters. Only this component constitutes what we understand as a reward. It mediates the specific behavioral reinforcing, approach generating, and emotional effects of rewards that are crucial for the organism’s survival and reproduction, whereas all other components are only supportive of these functions. ... Rewards can also be intrinsic to behavior (31, 546, 547). They contrast with extrinsic rewards that provide motivation for behavior and constitute the essence of operant behavior in laboratory tests. Intrinsic rewards are activities that are pleasurable on their own and are undertaken for their own sake, without being the means for getting extrinsic rewards. ... Intrinsic rewards are genuine rewards in their own right, as they induce learning, approach, and pleasure, like perfectioning, playing, and enjoying the piano. Although they can serve to condition higher order rewards, they are not conditioned, higher order rewards, as attaining their reward properties does not require pairing with an unconditioned reward. ... These emotions are also called liking (for pleasure) and wanting (for desire) in addiction research (471) and strongly support the learning and approach generating functions of reward.
In the prefrontal cortex, recent evidence indicates that the [orbitofrontal cortex] OFC and insula cortex may each contain their own additional hot spots (D.C. Castro et al., Soc. Neurosci., abstract). In specific subregions of each area, either opioid-stimulating or orexin-stimulating microinjections appear to enhance the number of liking reactions elicited by sweetness, similar to the [nucleus accumbens] NAc and [ventral pallidum] VP hot spots. Successful confirmation of hedonic hot spots in the OFC or insula would be important and possibly relevant to the orbitofrontal mid-anterior site mentioned earlier that especially tracks the subjective pleasure of foods in humans (Georgiadis et al., 2012; Kringelbach, 2005; Kringelbach et al., 2003; Small et al., 2001; Veldhuizen et al., 2010). Finally, in the brainstem, a hindbrain site near the parabrachial nucleus of dorsal pons also appears able to contribute to hedonic gains of function (Söderpalm and Berridge, 2000). A brainstem mechanism for pleasure may seem more surprising than forebrain hot spots to anyone who views the brainstem as merely reflexive, but the pontine parabrachial nucleus contributes to taste, pain, and many visceral sensations from the body and has also been suggested to play an important role in motivation (Wu et al., 2012) and in human emotion (especially related to the somatic marker hypothesis) (Damasio, 2010).
Here, we show that opioid or orexin stimulations in orbitofrontal cortex and insula causally enhance hedonic “liking” reactions to sweetness and find a third cortical site where the same neurochemical stimulations reduce positive hedonic impact.
So it makes sense that the real pleasure centers in the brain – those directly responsible for generating pleasurable sensations – turn out to lie within some of the structures previously identified as part of the reward circuit. One of these so-called hedonic hotspots lies in a subregion of the nucleus accumbens called the medial shell. A second is found within the ventral pallidum, a deep-seated structure near the base of the forebrain that receives most of its signals from the nucleus accumbens. ...
On the other hand, intense euphoria is harder to come by than everyday pleasures. The reason may be that strong enhancement of pleasure – like the chemically induced pleasure bump we produced in lab animals – seems to require activation of the entire network at once. Defection of any single component dampens the high.
Whether the pleasure circuit – and in particular, the ventral pallidum – works the same way in humans is unclear.
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