New York (dpa) - A "cheerleader" brain signal has been discovered that may be linked to addiction or obsessive illness, researcher have reported.
Like an encouraging bystander at a marathon, the signal urges someone to keep working at a task to receive a reward. If over- active, it may contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder or drug abuse, researchers reported in the journal Science.
The "cheerleader" signal was discovered in reward experiments with monkeys which had to complete a series of tasks in order to receive drops of juice. The signal seems to wind down just before a reward is reached. Knowing that a reward is a sure thing may be more important than actually receiving it, said researcher Barry Richmond, from the National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S.
"Imagine you're in a tall building, waiting for the elevator, but it doesn't come," said Richmond. Your anxiety increases, but then you hear a bell ding on the next floor, and you feel better, because you're sure what's going to happen next. The signal we saw is like that."
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