Processing Social and Nonsocial Rewards in the Human Brain

Lauren A. Leotti and Mauricio R. Delgado

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Processing Social and Nonsocial Rewards in the Human Brain

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology



Converging evidence from the animal literature, clinical studies, and neuroimaging research highlights a specific set of brain structures as integral for reward processing and for learning associations between behaviors and their consequences. The existence of a biologically based reward system underscores the importance of reward information for adaptively learning about the environment and for motivating goal-directed behavior. This chapter presents a general overview of the human reward system. First, it provides an overview of the anatomy involved in reward processing. Next, it discusses the basic findings related to the affective and motivational components of reward, and their influences on cognition and behavior. Finally, it discusses how rewards are processed in a social context and the potential implications for learning and behavior.

Keywords: human reward system; reward processing; motivation; cognition; social rewards

Article.  12143 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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