Large regions of the brain have recently been mapped and labeled as “centers of pleasure”
Happiness, however, appears to be an emotion which is recognised retrospectively. It is preceded by “pleasure” the complex result of an interpretation by the brain of external factors received through the conscious senses. These (essentially binary) imputs are selectively amplified (as described in an earlier post).
Pleasure at this introductory stage is interpreted in terms of those (selectively amplified) external factors, which become symbols or tokens of “pleasure”. That association remains identified with the source, so that sexual pleasure (for example) is associated with a particular female. This has a “lock-in” effect and ties the male psychologically to that female.
“Happiness” is then the reterospective appraisal, as stored in memory.
In a similar way, food which appeals is associated with pleasure and is thereafter sought preferentially.
Similar mechanisms can be associated with “comfort”, such as an environment offering shelter, warmth and protection. That entity is then sought selectively in a search for the pleasure of “comfort”.
“Reward” can be considered the satisfaction of fulfilling expectation.
Collaborating Researcher, Stanford University
Managing Partner, Market Psychology Consulting
San Francisco, CA , USA
Last updated January 3, 2005
Published in: Brain Research Bulletin