Pharmacology of Basal Forebrain Involvement in Reinforcement

  • Steven I. Dworkin
  • Linda J. Porrino
  • James E. Smith
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 295)


The search for the substrates of reinforcement within the organism began shortly after the initial demonstration that electrical stimulation of discrete brain regions could serve as a reinforcer (Olds and Milner, 1954). This intracranial electrical self-stimulation (ICSS) was assumed to result in the activation of the same neuronal pathways responsible for the reinforcing effects of natural environmental events. One of the major goals of the neurosciences is the elucidation of these basic neurobiological substrates of reinforcement. The identification of these basic processes includes the identification of both the neuronal pathways involved as well as the neurochemical characteristics of each neuron in the circuit. Knowledge of the location of the cell bodies and the projection fields for each neuron as well as the neurohumor(s) released would also be necessary to provide a complete account of the central processes of reinforcement. Information concerning the location of receptors critical to these processes including the types of presynaptic and postsynaptic binding sites and the nature of the neurons on which these were located would be required. The modulatory effects of other inputs to each component neuron in the circuit mediating effects like satiation, deprivation or conditioning influences would also be needed if these basic mechanisms were to be understood. Ultimately, the relationship between various patterns of activity of these inputs on the output of each component neuron would be necessary (the sum total of activity in the mediating neuronal networks). This information is not available for even the most simple mammalian behaviors. However, substantial progress has been made in investigations of the nature of these brain processes.


Nucleus Accumbens Ventral Tegmental Area Medial Prefrontal Cortex Lateral Hypothalamus Dorsal Raphe 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven I. Dworkin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Linda J. Porrino
    • 1
    • 2
  • James E. Smith
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Bowman Gray School of MedicineWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.The Unit on Brain ImagingNINDSBethesdaUSA

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