Reward Deficiency Syndrome

The Hypothalamus lies just below (Hypo) the Thalamus and at the top front of the brain stem in the Limbic System. The Hypothalamus monitors blood flow, hunger, and blood chemistry glucose. It controls the adjacent “master gland” or Pituitary Gland, which in turn influences the release of hormones by other glands. This complex interplay between the nervous system and the hormone (Endocrine System) influences the brain, which in turn influences the Endocrine System. 

New Brain Center

Neuropsychologists conducting experiments with lab rats implanted tiny electrodes in their brains. An electrode was placed in the wrong spot in one rat, that responded differently from the others. That one rat would return to a particular place on the enclosed lab table where it had been stimulated by the misplaced electrode, as if seeking more stimulation. The two scientists discovered a previously unknown brain center that provides a pleasurable reward.

The scientists, James Olds (1922-1976) and Peter Milner (1919-2018) went on with meticulous experiments in 1953 and located other “pleasure centers” as they called them. Today’s scientists refer to these areas as “reward centers.” Similar reward centers in or near the Hypothalamus were later discovered in many other animal species including dolphins, monkeys even goldfish.

Numerous experiments throughout the second half of the 20th century were conducted, including training rats to press a button to trigger their own reward at a feverish pace – up to 7,000 times per hour.

Human Limbic Pleasure Centers

Scientists began to wonder if humans also have Limbic pleasure centers. Experiments proved that we do. One neurosurgeon implanted electrodes in patients to calm them down. Some people were mildly stimulated.

Today, researchers believe that Addictive Disorders, such as alcoholism, drug abuse and binge eating,  gambling, sex addiction, ADHD and multiple addictive, impulsive and compulsive behavioral problems, may stem from a “Reward Deficiency syndrome,” a lack of the essential neurotransmitter Dopamine. This genetically disposed deficiency in the natural brain systems for pleasure and well-being leads people to crave whatever provides the missing pleasure or relieves negative feelings (Blum Et al., 1996, Genet Et al., 2005).

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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