The amygdala, reward and emotion

Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Nov;11(11):489-97. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2007.08.013. Epub 2007 Nov 7.


Recent research provides new insights into amygdala contributions to positive emotion and reward. Studies of neuronal activity in the monkey amygdala and of autonomic responses mediated by the monkey amygdala show that, contrary to a widely held view, the amygdala is just as important for processing positive reward and reinforcement as it is for negative. In addition, neuropsychological studies reveal that the amygdala is essential for only a fraction of what might be considered 'stimulus-reward processing', and that the neural substrates for emotion and reward are partially nonoverlapping. Finally, evidence suggests that two systems within the amygdala, operating in parallel, enable reward-predicting cues to influence behavior; one mediates a general, arousing effect of reward and the other links the sensory properties of reward to emotion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Reward*