Department Colloquium: Dr. Kent Berridge

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Dr. Kent Berridge, University of Michigan
Brain Generators of Liking and Wanting

Abstract:
Pleasure ‘liking’ is an essential psychological function for wellbeing, and incentive ‘wanting’ can normally give zest to life. Yet clinical disorders of addiction, binge eating, depression and schizophrenia can involve dysfunction of ‘liking’ and/or ‘wanting’. Recent findings indicate that ‘liking’ is generated by a surprisingly frail and tiny network of hedonic hotspots distributed across brain limbic structures.  By contrast, ‘wanting’ for pleasures has a much more robust and larger brain generating mesocorticolimbic network, which interacts with amygdala-related mechanisms to focus ‘wanting’ on particular incentive targets.  Finally, ‘wanting’ networks can also switch mode to generate some active-coping forms of fear. Such conclusions have implications for understanding normal psychological function, and may give insights into several disorders.

Kent Berridge is the James Olds collegiate professor of psychology and neuroscience in the department of psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Berridge’s current research focuses on answering questions such as: How is pleasure generated in the brain? Is happiness in the brain? How do wanting and liking interact? What causes addiction? Does fear share anything with desire? Can an emotion ever be unconscious? Among other honors, Berridge has been a Guggenheim fellow and a Fulbright senior scholar.


Annually the Department of Psychology hosts a Colloquia Series throughout the academic year.