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Ventral Striatum

Ventral Striatum: This area is a fairly small one that is inserted deep in the brain close to the basal ganglia. Until just recently, there has not been much known about the ventral striatum. But recently it has been associated with decision, risk and reward. It is important in what we identify as rewarding – such as status and keeping up with the Joneses – and just how rewarding something is. It has been associated with pathological gambling, and it also matters when you are thinking about what to do next with your portfolio.

This ventral striatum consists of 2 parts, the olfactory tubercle and the nucleus accumbens. Its most vital neurotransmitter is dopamine. Dopamine is linked with pleasure and motor functions. The ventral striatum is thoroughly associated with the limbic system that involves motivation and emotion: receiving input from it and sending output to it, mostly associated with restrain, or checking impulse. It is thought that this ventral striatum aids in suppressing certain actions in the limbic system, selecting the ones that are appropriate and silencing the others

When everything is considered, it is a natural selection for the reward center or area of the brain and this indeed seems to be its function. Numerous studies that looked at different types of rewards showed this area totally lighting up. For example anticipating financial gain will increase dopamine in the ventral striatum and increases pleasure. Thoughts about loss decreases dopamine. It was discovered that the majority of individuals are most sensitive to dopamine decreases than increases, and this is where risk aversion comes from. It tells the limbic system what behavior being considered is risky or that the loss just occurred is not a good thing and the limbic system tells the conscious mind to feel bad about what just happened, affecting your decision-making.

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