Dissecting components of reward: 'liking', 'wanting', and learning

Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2009 Feb;9(1):65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.coph.2008.12.014. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


In recent years significant progress has been made delineating the psychological components of reward and their underlying neural mechanisms. Here we briefly highlight findings on three dissociable psychological components of reward: 'liking' (hedonic impact), 'wanting' (incentive salience), and learning (predictive associations and cognitions). A better understanding of the components of reward, and their neurobiological substrates, may help in devising improved treatments for disorders of mood and motivation, ranging from depression to eating disorders, drug addiction, and related compulsive pursuits of rewards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motivation*
  • Reward*