Learn about the limbic system and the biochemical processes that allow this key brain region to process rewards. The limbic system links together a number of brain structures that control and regulate our ability to feel pleasure. Feeling pleasure motivates us to repeat behaviors that are critical to our existence. The limbic system is activated by healthy, life-sustaining activities such as eating and socializing—but it is also activated by drugs of abuse, which is why they can hijack this circuit and lead to a compulsive cycle of drug use and, in many cases, addiction. In addition, the limbic system is responsible for our perception of other emotions, both positive and negative, which explains the mood-altering properties of many drugs.
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