One way beliefs produce pleasure and reward in the cerebrum

This 2014 Singapore human study found:

“Differences in belief learning – the degree to which players were able to anticipate and respond to the actions of others, or to imagine what their competitor is thinking and respond strategically – was associated with variation in three genes which primarily affect dopamine functioning in the medial prefrontal cortex.

In contrast, differences in trial-and-error reinforcement learning – how quickly they forget past experiences and how quickly they change strategy – was associated with variation in two genes that primarily affect striatal dopamine.”

One of the researchers said:

“The findings correlate well with previous brain studies showing that the prefrontal cortex is involved in belief learning, while the striatum is involved in reinforcement learning.”

The study didn’t demonstrate cause and effect, however, and the researchers cautioned:

“It would be mistaken to interpret our results as suggesting that dopamine genes function as “belief learning genes.”

The study added to the science of how beliefs act on the pleasure and reward parts of the cerebrum. “Dissociable contribution of prefrontal and striatal dopaminergic genes to learning in economic games” (the pdf file is linked because the html had errors)

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