Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

More Discussion — Pleasure or Pain


When goals are attained, the body rewards us with a pleasure sensation. (Gazzaniga; Human, 218)

We get a pleasure signal when we need something sweet and full of fat. (Gazzaniga; Human, 218)

Avoidance and evasion or endorsement and approach. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 41)

Pain behaviors include facial expressions of alarm and suffering and a host of responses organized by the immune system. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 32)

Pleasure behaviors include relaxation, facial expressions of confidence and well-being, and production of certain classes of chemicals such as endorphins. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 33)

Drives and motivations include hunger, thirst, curiosity and exploration, play and sex. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 34)

Emotions are inseparable from the idea of reward or punishment, of pleasure or pain, of approach or withdrawal, of personal advantage and disadvantage.  Inevitably, emotions are inseparable from the idea of good and evil. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 55)

Dopamine levels rise in the nucleus accumbens in response to natural rewards (food, water, and sexual stimuli), and conditioned incentives (stimuli associated with rewards). (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 247)

Mental state we call joy and its variants is something like a score composed in the key of pleasure. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 137)

Mental state we called sorrow encompasses negative states such as anguish, fear, guilt, and despair.  These are scores composed in the key of pain. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 137)

Brain maps associated with joy signifies states of equilibrium for the organism; they are not only conducive to survival but to survival with well-being. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 137)


Brain Areas for Pain and Pleasure

Regions involved in producing the emotive responses behind  pleasurable states -- right orbitofrontal cortices, left ventral striatum. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 103)

Regions that were negatively correlated with the pleasurable state -- right amygdala. (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 103)

Pain resulted in notable changes of activity in two somatosensory regions (insula and S2). (Damasio; Looking for Spinoza, 103)