This chapter describes brain networks related to reward processing. We will first consider the reward regions identified by decades of preclinical and more recently human research and the circuits that connect them. These will include the classical “reward centers” along with various cortical and subcortical structures that contribute to reward learning and reward-based decision-making. The second section explores how these nodes, identified and described primarily in nonhuman mammals, are identified in humans through the use of noninvasive imaging techniques like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET). We next discuss reward processing from a network-level perspective, including the methods by which structural and functional connectivity can be identified in humans with MRI-based tools. The final section will discuss functional connectivity networks that center on reward-related circuitry, as well as networks that serve many behavioral purposes but are affected by reward. Dysregulation of these reward networks circuitry in neuropsychiatric disorders will be explored using addiction as an exemplar.
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This work was supported by the NIDA Intramural Research Program. The authors would like to thank Drs. V. Pariyadath, J.R. Fedota and J.L. Gowin for stimulating discussion.
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