What happens to our dopamine system when we experience aversive events?


It is well known that the dopamine system plays a crucial role in motivation, learning, and movement. One of the main functions of dopamine is to predict the occurrence of rewarding experiences and the availability of rewards in our environment.

In this context, the dopamine system informs our brains about so-called ‘reward prediction errors’ – the difference between received and predicted rewards. Dopamine neurons become more active when a reward occurs unexpectedly or if it is bigger than expected, and they show depressed activity when we receive less reward than predicted.

These error signals help us to learn from our mistakes and teach us how to achieve rewarding experiences. Continue reading in Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience – KNAW (link).