"Wanting" and "Liking": The Neurochemical and Neurocognitive Basis of Primary and Social Reward in Humans
Human behavior is motivated not only by primary reward (e.g. food) but also by social reward (e.g. approval). In the last decade, it has been a fundamental challenge to understand the different aspects involved in reward. While animal research has clearly established wanting and liking as two discrete neurobiological components for primary reward, corresponding research in humans is less conclusive. Notably, in the domain of social reward such a distinction has not been established yet. This is a limitation in light of evidence suggesting impaired social wanting in cognitive disorders such as autism. The present project addresses this gap of knowledge by asking three fundamental research questions: 1) Can wanting and liking be dissociated in humans on the behavioral and neurobiological level for a) primary and b) social reward? 2) Are primary and social rewards subtended by the same neural circuits? 3) Are wanting and liking of primary and social reward differentially impaired in autism?