In affective neuroscience, "desire" and "wanting" are operationally defined as motivational salience; the form of "desire" or "wanting" associated with a rewarding stimulus (i. e. , a stimulus which acts as a positive reinforcer, such as palatable food, an attractive mate, or an addictive drug) is called "incentive salience" and research has demonstrated that incentive salience, the sensation of pleasure, and positive reinforcement are all derived from neuronal activity within the reward system. Studies have shown that dopamine signaling in the nucleus accumbens shell and endogenous opioid signaling in the ventral pallidum are at least partially responsible for mediating an individual's desire (i. e. , incentive salience) for a rewarding stimulus and the subjective perception of pleasure derived from experiencing or "consuming" a rewarding stimulus (e. g. , pleasure derived from eating palatable food, sexual pleasure from intercourse with an attractive mate, or euphoria from using an addictive drug). Research also shows that the orbitofrontal cortex has connections to both the opioid and dopamine systems, and stimulating this cortex is associated with subjective reports of pleasure.
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