Why your brain loves rewards


That title is something of a tautology, isn’t it? My brain loves rewards because they are rewards. If my brain hated them, they would be pretty crappy rewards.


Dang you! I came here to say the same thing.

That, and because evolution would tend to weed out the brains that love costs or punishment.

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A statistical sampling, sure. But I don’t like it when articles claim to be about “me”, I avoid those for the sake of accuracy.

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Aye, the title would be more accurate if it began with how.

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The variable rewards of posting comments in boingboing certainly keep me coming back.


Eh, a little punishment can be stimulating.



My brain likes most rewards.
It loves chocolate, orgasms, and fixing things.


It sounds tautological; but the “Yeah, actually, the process of evolutionary monkey-bodging that made you what your brain is today can almost be summed up as ‘you’re just a strung out doing-adaptive-things junkie’ with surprisingly little violence to the truth” is always interesting to hear…

Oh, if only I could find someone to fix my chocolate dispensing orgasm booth.


…fixing choco orgasmatron


sorry i keep breaking it…


As ever, Red Dwarf provides:

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There was a short story, I’m pretty sure posted last year here on BB, that brilliantly showed a consultant giving a presentation to gaming execs on how to maximize such behavior in their MMORG. The underlying joke being, of course, that he was using the techniques to tease money out of the execs by triggering their own greedy anticipation of endless riches through the presentation, as if each powerpoint slide was a hit of the braincandy.

A friend did precisely the described rat work when he was in grad school, running the electrostimulant series as a control for testing different potential anti-abuse drugs for cocaine. (Side-note: the trigger behavior was sticking their nose into a tube which was crossed by an IR sensor, rather than pressing a bar.)

I used to tell him I wanted the rig for a Christmas present, so I could spend all day going Louis Wu with a garage door opener. Alas, I’m still stuck with video games and the occasional Vegas trip.

People sometimes ask me, Why does pleasure feel good?

And I always say, We have to go all the way back to the Ocean Soup for this one.

Remember before your ancestors were living creatures? Before proto-mammals … before fish … before worms … before one-celled organisms?

Remember when your ancestors were proteins at the threshold of self-replication?

Remember when you were such a strand of protein?

And do you remember how good it felt when you assimilated another strand of protein?

And how really, really good it felt when you self-replicated?

That’s how it all began.

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