Activation in the VTA and nucleus accumbens increases in anticipation of both gains and losses
by R. McKell Carter, Jeff J. MacInnes, Scott A. Huettel and R. Alison Adcock. Front. Behav. Neurosci. (2009), 3:21
Many of animal behaviors can be considered as the end product of the motivation to maximize benefits and minimize costs to the animal. Through intensive investigation based on psychopharmacological manipulations, dopamine in the mammalian nucleus accumbens (NAcc) has been implicated to play a key role in multiple aspects of motivational control of behaviors. However, the exact mechanism by which dopamine produces its behavioral effect is still debated (Wise, 2004; Salamone et al., 2005; Berridge, 2007). A central issue in this debate concerns the role of NAcc dopamine along the two main axes of motivational control, salience and valence. Valence view supports the role of dopamine in mediating appetitive value of the primary reward or conditioned stimuli as well as in reinforcement learning. On the contrary, salience view emphasizes its role in evoking conditioned motivation or “wanting” in the presence of stimuli predicting primary reward, which can engage animals in exerting efforts to obtain predicted reward.