Reward and punishment systems
The idea of a goal-directed arousal system in the brain implies the existence of some mechanism for selecting appropriate goals, for initiating the behaviours required to achieve them, and for signaling when they have been attained. If a goal proves favourable for survival in the prevailing circumstances, it is advantageous to reinforce behaviour leading to it; if the goal proves to be unfavourable, behaviour leading to it must be suppressed and avoidance action taken in future. Such a signalling system may be provided by certain ‘reward’ and ‘punishment’ pathways in the brain. These are closely integrated with arousal systems and with learning and memory, and appear to be fundamental for motivation, and for goal-seeking and avoidance behaviour.
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