The hedonic processing of pleasure, pain, and displeasure is essential to survival and as such motivates behavior and strongly influences decision-making. Research has shown that the underlying mechanisms of wanting, liking, and learning form partly separable neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological systems in the brain, which are shared among many mammalian species. This chapter provides an overview of the brain circuitry involved in hedonic (dis)liking, wanting, and learning of rewards and punishments. It discusses the influence of physiology and homeostasis, motivational state, and contextual meaning in shaping the subjective utility of stimuli, and consequently hedonic value and the subjective hedonic experience.
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