Opioid and orexin hedonic hotspots in rat orbitofrontal cortex and insula

Daniel C. Castro, Kent C. Berridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Hedonic hotspots are brain sites where particular neurochemical stimulations causally amplify the hedonic impact of sensory rewards, such as "liking" for sweetness. Here, we report the mapping of two hedonic hotspots in cortex, where mu opioid or orexin stimulations enhance the hedonic impact of sucrose taste. One hedonic hotspot was found in anterior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), and another was found in posterior insula. A suppressive hedonic coldspot was also found in the formof an intervening strip stretching from the posterior OFC through the anterior and middle insula, bracketed by the two cortical hotspots. Opioid/orexin stimulations in either cortical hotspot activated Fos throughout a distributed "hedonic circuit" involving cortical and subcortical structures. Conversely, cortical coldspot stimulation activated circuitry for "hedonic suppression." Finally, food intake was increased by stimulations at several prefrontal cortical sites, indicating that the anatomical substrates in cortex for enhancing the motivation to eat are discriminable from those for hedonic impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E9125-E9134
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 24 2017


  • Affect
  • Affect
  • Insula
  • Motivation
  • Opioid
  • Opioid
  • Orbitofrontal cortex


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