To benefit from opportunities and cope with challenges in the environment, animals must adapt their behavior to acquire rewards and to avoid punishments. Maladaptive changes in the neuromodulatory systems and neural circuits for reward and aversion can lead to manifestation of several prominent psychiatric disorders including addiction and depression. Recent progress is pushing the boundaries of knowledge on two major fronts in research on reward and aversion: First, new layers of complexity have been reported on the functions of dopamine (DA) and serotonin (5-HT) neuromodulatory systems in reward and aversion. Second, specific circuit components in the neural pathways that encode reward and aversion have begun to be identified. This review aims to outline historic perspectives and new insights into the functions of DA and 5-HT systems in coding the distinct components of rewards. It also highlights recent advances in neural circuit studies enabled by new technologies, such as cell-type-specific electrophysiology and tracing, and optogenetics-based behavioral manipulation. This knowledge may provide guidance for developing novel treatment strategies for neuropsychiatric diseases related to the malfunction of the reward system.

Keyword(s): aversiondopamineNAcrewardserotoninVTA

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