Advertisement

Towards a Neuroscience of Well-Being: Implications of Insights from Pleasure Research

  • Kent C. BerridgeEmail author
  • Morten L. Kringelbach
Chapter
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)

Abstract

Despite the best efforts of many people to maximize well-being, the human condition is still marred by great levels of unhappiness. Here we discuss how recent advances in the understanding of the human brain may offer some insights. In particular, progress has been made in understanding pleasure or positive affect (hedonia) and the underlying processes of wanting, liking and learning. Yet, we are still far from understanding its sister element, eudaimonia, the sense of meaningfulness or engagement in life. We survey the key findings showing that hedonic brain mechanisms are shared between humans and other mammals, which have been useful in facilitating the understanding of hedonia. Evidence has also grown to indicate that for humans, brain networks of higher pleasures strongly overlap with more basic sensory pleasures. This overlap may provide a window into underlying brain circuitry that generates all pleasures, perhaps including even the hedonic quality of pervasive well-being. Pleasure plays a crucial role in guiding the survival-related decision-making involved in optimizing resource allocation of brain processes. This systems perspective on positive well-being calls for careful balancing rather than maximization of one process at the expense of others. In turn, successfully balancing wanting and liking processes could be key to linking hedonia states to eudaimonia assessments to create balanced states of positive well-being that approach happiness.

Keywords

Orbitofrontal Cortex Incentive Salience Default Network Sensory Pleasure High Pleasure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Our research is supported by grants from the TrygFonden Charitable Foundation, Braveheart Charity, and Novo Nordisk Foundation to MLK and from the NIH (MH63644 and DA015188) to KCB. This chapter is an abridged version of a previously published article (Berridge and Kringelbach 2011).

References

  1. Aldridge JW, Berridge KC, Herman M, Zimmer L (1993) Neuronal coding of serial order: syntax of grooming in the neostriatum. Psychol Sci 4:391–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aristotle (350 B. C. [2009]) The Nicomachean ethics. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Bechara A, Damasio H, Tranel D, Damasio AR (1997) Deciding advantageously before knowing the advantageous strategy. Science 275:1293–1295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bechara A, Damasio H, Damasio AR (2000) Emotion, decision making and the orbitofrontal cortex. Cereb Cortex 10:295–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berridge KC, Fentress JC (1986) Contextual control of trigeminal sensorimotor function. J Neurosci 6:325–330Google Scholar
  6. Berridge KC, Kringelbach ML (2008) Affective neuroscience of pleasure: reward in humans and animals. Psychopharmacology 199:457–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berridge KC, Kringelbach ML (2011) Building a neuroscience of pleasure and well-being. Psychol Well-Being 1:1–3Google Scholar
  8. Berridge KC, Robinson TE, Aldridge JW (2009) Dissecting components of reward: ‘liking’, ‘wanting’, and learning. Curr Opin Pharmacol 9:65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berridge KC, Ho CY, Richard JM, DiFeliceantonio AG (2010) The tempted brain eats: pleasure and desire circuits in obesity and eating disorders. Brain Res 1350:43–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bruno M-A, Bernheim JL, Ledoux D, Pellas F, Demertzi A, Laureys S (2011) A survey on self-assessed well-being in a cohort of chronic locked-in syndrome patients: Happy majority, miserable minority. Brit Med J Open. 1(1):e000039Google Scholar
  11. Buckner RL, Andrews-Hanna JR, Schacter DL (2008) The brain’s default network: anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1124:1–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burke KA, Miller D, Schoenbaum G (2010) Conditioned reinforcement and the specialized role of corticolimbic circuits in the pursuit of happiness and other more specific rewards. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 50–61Google Scholar
  13. Cabanac M (2010) The dialectics of pleasure. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 113–124Google Scholar
  14. Craig AD (2009) How do you feel–now? The anterior insula and human awareness. Nat Rev Neurosci 10:59–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cromwell HC, Berridge KC (1993) Where does damage lead to enhanced food aversion: the ventral pallidum/substantia innominata or lateral hypothalamus? Brain Res 624:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Damasio AR (1999) The feeling of what happens: body and emotion in the making of consciousness. Harcourt Brace, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Damasio AR (2004) Emotions and feelings: a neurobiological perspective. In: Manstead ASR, Frijda N, Fischer A (eds) Feelings and emotions: the Amsterdam symposium. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 49–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Darwin C (1872) The expression of the emotions in man and animals. J. Murray, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davidson RJ (2004) Well-being and affective style: neural substrates and biobehavioural correlates. Philos Trans R Soc B: Biol Sci 359:1395–1411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davidson RJ, Lewis DA, Alloy LB, Amaral DG, Bush G, Cohen JD et al (2002) Neural and behavioral substrates of mood and mood regulation. Biol Psychiatry 52:478–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dehaene S, Kerszberg M, Changeux JP (1998) A neuronal model of a global workspace in effortful cognitive tasks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 95:14529–14534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dickinson A, Balleine B (2010) Hedonics: the cognitive-motivational interface. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 74–84Google Scholar
  23. Diener E, Lucas RE, Scollon CN (2006) Beyond the hedonic treadmill: revising the adaptation theory of well-being. Am Psychol 61:305–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Diener E, Kesebir P, Lucas R (2008) Benefits of accounts of well-being—for societies and for psychological science. Appl Psychol 57:37–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Everitt BJ, Belin D, Economidou D, Pelloux Y, Dalley JW, Robbins TW (2008) Neural mechanisms underlying the vulnerability to develop compulsive drug-seeking habits and addiction. Philos Trans R Soc B: Biol Sci 363:3125–3135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fair DA, Cohen AL, Dosenbach NU, Church JA, Miezin FM, Barch DM et al (2008) The maturing architecture of the brain’s default network. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105:4028–4032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Feldman BL, Wager TD (2006) The structure of emotion: evidence from neuroimaging studies. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 15:79–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Fransson P, Skiold B, Horsch S, Nordell A, Blennow M, Lagercrantz H, Aden U (2007) Resting-state networks in the infant brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:15531–15536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Freud S (1930) Civilization and its discontents. Norton & Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Frijda N (2010) On the nature and function of pleasure. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 99–112Google Scholar
  31. Friston K, Kiebel S (2009) Predictive coding under the free-energy principle. Philos Trans R Soc B: Biol Sci 364:1211–1221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Frith CD, Frith U (1999) Interacting minds–a biological basis. Science 286:1692–1695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Geogiadis JR, Kortekaas R (2010) The sweetest taboo: functional neurobiology of human sexuality in relation to pleasure. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 178–291Google Scholar
  34. Georgiadis JR, Kringelbach ML (2012) The human sexual response cycle: brain imaging evidence linking sex to other pleasures. Prog Neurobiol 98(1):49–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Gilbert DT (2006) Stumbling on happiness. Alfred A. Knopf, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  36. Grabenhorst F, Rolls ET (2011) Value, pleasure and choice in the ventral prefrontal cortex. Trends Cogn Sci 15:56–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Grill HJ, Norgren R (1978) The taste reactivity test. II. Mimetic responses to gustatory stimuli in chronic thalamic and chronic decerebrate rats. Brain Res 143:281–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Gusnard DA, Raichle ME, Raichle ME (2001) Searching for a baseline: functional imaging and the resting human brain. Nat Rev Neurosci 2:685–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Harris S, Kaplan JT, Curiel A, Bookheimer SY, Iacoboni M, Cohen MS (2009) The neural correlates of religious and nonreligious relief. PLoS ONE 4(10):e0007272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Heller AS, Johnstone T, Shackman AJ, Light SN, Peterson MJ, Kolden GG et al (2009) Reduced capacity to sustain positive emotion in major depression reflects diminished maintenance of fronto-striatal brain activation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:22445–22450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hornak J, Bramham J, Rolls ET, Morris RG, O’Doherty J, Bullock PR, Polkey CE (2003) Changes in emotion after circumscribed surgical lesions of the orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices. Brain 126:1691–1712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kahneman D (1999a) Assessments of individual well-being: a bottom-up approach. In: Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwartz N (eds) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. Russel Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Kahneman D (1999b) Objective happiness. In: Kahneman D, Diener E, Schwartz N (eds) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. Russel Sage Foundation, New York, pp 3–25Google Scholar
  44. Kelley AE, Berridge KC (2002) The neuroscience of natural rewards: relevance to addictive drugs. J Neurosci 22:3306–3311Google Scholar
  45. Koob GF, Volkow ND (2010) Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology 35:217–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kringelbach ML (2004) Food for thought: hedonic experience beyond homeostasis in the human brain. Neuroscience 126:807–819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kringelbach ML (2005) The human orbitofrontal cortex: linking reward to hedonic experience. Nat Rev Neurosci 6:691–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kringelbach ML (2009) The pleasure center: trust your animal instincts. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  49. Kringelbach ML (2010) The hedonic brain: a functional neuroanatomy of human pleasure. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 202–221Google Scholar
  50. Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (2009) Towards a functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and happiness. Trends Cogn Sci 13:479–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (2010a) The functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and happiness. Discov Med 9:579–587Google Scholar
  52. Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) (2010b) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  53. Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (2012) A joyful mind. Scientific American, USAGoogle Scholar
  54. Kringelbach ML, Rolls ET (2004) The functional neuroanatomy of the human orbitofrontal cortex: evidence from neuroimaging and neuropsychology. Prog Neurobiol 72:341–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kuppens P, Realo A, Diener E (2008) The role of positive and negative emotions in life satisfaction judgment across nations. J Pers Soc Psychol 95:66–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Laureys S, Perrin F, Faymonville ME, Schnakers C, Boly M, Bartsch V et al (2004) Cerebral processing in the minimally conscious state. Neurology 63:916–918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Leknes S, Tracey I (2010) Pleasure and pain: masters of mankind. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 320–335Google Scholar
  58. Lou HC, Kjaer TW, Friberg L, Wildschiodtz G, Holm S, Nowak M (1999) A 15O–H2O PET study of meditation and the resting state of normal consciousness. Hum Brain Mapp 7:98–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Mahler SV, Smith KS, Berridge KC (2007) Endocannabinoid hedonic hotspot for sensory pleasure: Anandamide in nucleus accumbens shell enhances ‘liking’ of a sweet reward. Neuropsychopharmacology 32:2267–2278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Merker B (2007) Consciousness without a cerebral cortex: a challenge for neuroscience and medicine. Behav Brain Sci 30:63–81Google Scholar
  61. Mill JS, Crisp R, NetLibrary Inc. (1998) Utilitarianism. In: Oxford philosophical texts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp vii, 157Google Scholar
  62. Miller J, Vorel S, Tranguch A, Kenny E, Mazzoni P, van Gorp W, Kleber H (2006) Anhedonia after a selective bilateral lesion of the globus pallidus. Am J Psychiatry 163:786–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Nesse RM (2002) Evolutionary biology: a basic science for psychiatry. World Psychiatry 1:7–9Google Scholar
  64. Olds J (1956) Pleasure centers in the brain. Sci Am 195:105–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Panksepp J (1998) Affective neuroscience: the foundations of human and animal emotions. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  66. Pecina S (2008) Opioid reward ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’ in the nucleus accumbens. Physiol Behav 94:675–680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Peciña S, Berridge KC (2005) Hedonic hot spot in nucleus accumbens shell: where do mu-opioids cause increased hedonic impact of sweetness? J Neurosci 25:11777–11786CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Peciña S, Smith KS (2010) Hedonic and motivational roles of opioids in food reward: Implications for overeating disorders. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 97:34–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Peciña S, Smith KS, Berridge KC (2006) Hedonic hot spots in the brain. Neuroscientist 12:500–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Rahman S, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ (1999) Comparative cognitive neuropsychological studies of frontal lobe function: implications for therapeutic strategies in frontal variant frontotemporal dementia. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 10(Supp. 1):15–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Ryle G (1954) Pleasure. Proc Aristotelian Soc 28:135–146Google Scholar
  72. Salimpoor VN, Benovoy M, Larcher K, Dagher A, Zatorre RJ (2011) Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music. Nat Neurosci 14:257–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Schacter DL, Addis DR, Buckner RL (2007) Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain. Nat Rev Neurosci 8:657–661CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Seligman MEP, Steen TA, Park N, Peterson C (2005) Positive psychology progress—empirical validation of interventions. Am Psychol 60:410–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Shewmon DA, Holmes GL, Byrne PA (1999) Consciousness in congenitally decorticate children: Developmental vegetative state as self-fulfilling prophecy. Dev Med Child Neurol 41:364–374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Skov M (2010) The pleasures of art. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 270–286Google Scholar
  77. Smith KS, Berridge KC (2005) The ventral pallidum and hedonic reward: neurochemical maps of sucrose “liking” and food intake. J Neurosci 25:8637–8649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Smith KS, Berridge KC (2007) Opioid limbic circuit for reward: Interaction between hedonic hotspots of nucleus accumbens and ventral pallidum. J Neurosci 27:1594–1605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Smith KS, Mahler SV, Pecina S, Berridge KC (2010) Hedonic hotspots: generating sensory pleasure in the brain. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 27–49Google Scholar
  80. Steiner JE, Glaser D, Hawilo ME, Berridge KC (2001) Comparative expression of hedonic impact: Affective reactions to taste by human infants and other primates. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 25:53–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Urry HL, Nitschke JB, Dolski I, Jackson DC, Dalton KM, Mueller CJ et al (2004) Making a life worth living: neural correlates of well-being. Psychol Sci 15:367–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Urry HL, van Reekum CM, Johnstone T, Kalin NH, Thurow ME, Schaefer HS et al (2006) Amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are inversely coupled during regulation of negative affect and predict the diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion among older adults. J Neurosci 26:4415–4425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. van Reekum CM, Urry HL, Johnstone T, Thurow ME, Frye CJ, Jackson CA et al (2007) Individual differences in amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex activity are associated with evaluation speed and psychological well-being. J Cogn Neurosci 19:237–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Veldhuizen MG, Rudenga KJ, Small D (2010) The pleasure of taste flavor and food. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 146–168Google Scholar
  85. Vuust P, Kringelbach ML (2010) The pleasure of music. In: Kringelbach ML, Berridge KC (eds) Pleasures of the brain. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 255–269Google Scholar
  86. Winkielman P, Berridge KC, Wilbarger JL (2005) Unconscious affective reactions to masked happy versus angry faces influence consumption behavior and judgments of value. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 31:121–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zhang J, Berridge KC, Tindell AJ, Smith KS, Aldridge JW (2009) A neural computational model of incentive salience. PLoS Comput Biol 5(7):e1000437CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Affective Neuroscience and Biopsychology Lab, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations