The application of neurobiological tools to behavioral questions has produced a number of working models of the mechanisms mediating the rewarding and aversive properties of stimuli. The authors review and compare three models that differ in the nature and number of the processes identified. The dopamine hypothesis, a single system model, posits that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a fundamental role in mediating the rewarding properties of all classes of stimuli. In contrast, both nondeprived/deprived and saliency attribution models claim that separate systems make independent contributions to reward. The former identifies the psychological boundary defined by the two systems as being between states of nondeprivation (e.g. food sated) and deprivation (e.g. hunger). The latter identifies a boundary between liking and wanting systems. Neurobiological dissociations provide tests of and explanatory power for behavioral theories of goal-directed behavior.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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