Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Date:
July 18, 2009
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New research demonstrates that single neurons in the reward center of the brain process not only primitive rewards but also more abstract, cognitive rewards related to the quest for information about the future. The study enhances our understanding of learning and suggests that current theories of reward should be revised to include the effect of information seeking.

New research demonstrates that single neurons in the reward center of the brain process not only primitive rewards but also more abstract, cognitive rewards related to the quest for information about the future. The study, published in the July 16 issue of the journal Neuron, enhances our understanding of learning and suggests that current theories of reward should be revised to include the effect of information seeking.

Related Articles


"The desire to know what the future holds is a powerful motivator in everyday life, but we know little about how this desire is created by neurons in the brain," says lead study author Dr. Ethan S. Bromberg-Martin from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Bromberg-Martin and coauthor, Dr. Okihide Hikosaka, investigated whether dopamine-releasing neurons associated with processing basic primitive rewards, such as food and water, are also involved in processing more abstract rewards.

The researchers focused on a form of cognitive reward that involves anticipation of a substantial future gain. Specifically, people (and animals) do not like to be held in suspense and prefer to receive advance information about the rewards they will receive in the future. In this study, a simple decision task allowed rhesus monkeys to choose whether to view informative pictures that would tell them the size of upcoming water rewards. The researchers recorded the activity of dopamine reward neurons while the monkeys performed the task.

The monkeys showed a strong preference for information about upcoming rewards and preferred to receive the information as soon as possible, even though the information had no effect on the final reward outcome. Importantly, the dopamine neurons that signaled the monkey's expectation of water rewards also signaled the expectation of advance information in a manner that was correlated with the strength of the animal's preference. "The monkeys and dopamine neurons treated information about rewards as if it was a reward itself," explains Dr. Bromberg-Martin.

The authors conclude that the same dopamine neurons that signal primitive rewards like food and water also signal the cognitive reward of advance information. Importantly, this finding has important implications for modern theories of reinforcement learning. "Our data shows the need for a new class of models that assign information a positive value," says Dr. Bromberg-Martin. "Dopamine neurons might treat information as desirable because it can help us learn how to predict and control our environment."

The researchers include Ethan S. Bromberg-Martin, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, Brown University, Providence, RI; and Okihide Hikosaka, National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715131433.htm>.
Cell Press. (2009, July 18). Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715131433.htm
Cell Press. "Brain Response To Information About The Future Suggests That Ignorance Isn't Bliss." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715131433.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

Ebola Mistakes Should Serve a Lesson Says WHO

AFP (Jan. 25, 2015) The World Health Organization&apos;s chief on Sunday admitted the UN agency had been caught napping on Ebola, saying it should serve a lesson to avoid similar mistakes in future. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Disneyland Measles Outbreak Spreads To 5 States

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) Much of the Disneyland measles outbreak is being blamed on the anti-vaccination movement. The CDC encourages just about everyone get immunized. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

Growing Measles Outbreak Worries Calif. Parents

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) Public health officials are rushing to contain a measles outbreak that has sickened 70 people across 6 states and Mexico. The AP&apos;s Raquel Maria Dillon has more. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins