In a recent article about brain cells, Joshua Freedman a U.C.L.A. neuroscientist, noted that a monkey feels maximal reward not when he eats a grape but rather when he gets it in his possession, anticipating he can eat it.
Reward anticipation is very strong and can have a negative impact, (think: addiction), according to researchers from Rutgers and New York universities. They studied the effect of cognitive therapy on the physiological reactions to anticipating positive reward, and the results are published in Nature Neuroscience this week.
To get a handle on these cravings, researchers presented human subjects with cues for a monetary gift. For each presentation, they were asked to either think of the reward or think of something calming that was the same color as the cue (which was blue).
The calming strategy cut the physiological arousal (measured by skin conductance response) nearly in half. Additionally, they found marked reductions in the activity of the left and right striatum—a brain region involved in reward processing.
Hmmm—more fuel for the current trend in brain power: That is, the notion that our thoughts may hold more power than we think.
- Christie Nicholson