And he worked and he worked and he worked for hours. I just dropped him on the lever, he got one taste and he started hitting it.Those kinds of reward experiments had already been going on for years before you got to them. I observed that whenever the animal pushed the lever and got the motivating jolt, it explored its world energetically.Panksepp recently sat down with DISCOVER executive editor Pamela Weintraub at the magazine’s offices in New York City to explain his iconoclastic take on emotion. Your interest in emotion was sparked by an odd job you had in college. Putting myself through college at the University of Pittsburgh in 1964, I did night work on the side and ended up a night orderly in the psychiatric hospital. The head of the lab was a psychologist, Arnold Trehub, who pretty much asked me, what do you want to do with your life?I came in when it was dark and people were starting to settle down and go to bed. Others were very disturbed and would wander all night unless they were put into restraints. And I said, what I’m really interested in is brain stimulation and reward.What happened when you dropped a rat in one of those boxes you built?He fell on the lever, causing the electrode to stimulate his medial forebrain bundle, a reward center.Panksepp’s work has led him to conclude that basic emotion emerges not from the cerebral cortex, associated with complex thought in humans, but from deep, ancient brain structures, including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.Those findings may show how talk therapy can filter down from the cortex to alter the recesses of the mind.
It was clear that when I stimulated the reward center in the medial forebrain, they were not engaged in the kind of relaxation they felt when they stopped to eat or drink. It was the kind of behavior the animal showed when it was looking for food.
I realized this predatory attack came from the seeking system.