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Review

Reward: What Is It? How Can It Be Inferred From Behavior?

In: Neurobiology of Sensation and Reward. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 3.
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Review

Reward: What Is It? How Can It Be Inferred From Behavior?

Norman M. White.

Excerpt

In the present analysis, “reinforcement” is the term used to describe any process that promotes learning: a change in behavior as the result of experience. The event (or stimulus) that initiates the process is called the reinforcer. Since both the reinforcer and its behavioral effects are observable and can be fully described, this can be taken as an operational definition. However, this definition is uninformative with respect to the processes that underlie the behavioral effects of reinforcement and tends to obscure the fact that there are several such effects, all of which result in behavioral change. This chapter discusses evidence for the existence and independent function of three reinforcement processes.

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