For the first time it has been shown that rewards produce physical changes in the connections between nerve cells in the brain.
A study, A cellular mechanism of reward-related learning, by University of Otago scientists Jeff Wickens, John Reynolds and Brian Hyland appeared in Nature yesterday. Nature (2001; 413: 67-70). They have found neural pathways are strengthened when dopamine is released in response to rewards.
The finding could have implications in understanding and eventually treating Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, ADHD and drug and alcohol addiction, all of which are believed to be dopamine-related.