Neural basis of utility estimation

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1997 Apr;7(2):198-208. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(97)80008-6.


The allocation of behavior among competing activities and goal objects depends on the payoffs they provide. Payoff is evaluated among multiple dimensions, including intensity, rate, delay, and kind. Recent findings suggest that by triggering a stream of action potentials in myelinated, medial forebrain bundle axons, rewarding electrical brain stimulation delivers a meaningful intensity signal to the process that computes payoff.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Reward