The Pleasure Center: Trust your animal instincts

The Pleasure Center

OUP 2008, 304 pages; 57 halftones; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-532285-9 ISBN10: 0-19-532285-1 Price: $24.95 (£13.99) On

Many people believe that pleasure and desire are obstacles to reasonable and intelligent behavior.

In The Pleasure Center, Morten Kringelbach reveals that what we desire, what pleases us–in fact, our most base, animalistic tendencies–are actually very important sources of information. They motivate us for a good reason. And understanding that reason, taking that reason into account, and harnessing and directing that reason, can make us much more rational and effective people.

In exploring the many facets of pleasure, desire and emotion, Kringelbach takes us through the whole spectrum of human experience, such as how emotion fuels our interest in things, allowing us to pay attention and learn. He investigates the reward systems of the brain and sheds light on some of the most interesting new discoveries about pleasure and desire.

Kringelbach concludes that if we understand and accept how pleasure and desire arise in the complex interaction between the brain’s activity and our own experiences, we can discover what helps us enjoy life, enabling us to make better decisions and, ultimately, lead happier lives.

“The Pleasure Center takes us on an illuminating journey into a crucial essence of human experience. It is a superb account and a lot of fun to read. This lively book captures the best scientific understanding of what pleasure is and how the brains create it. Kringelbach is himself a prominent neuroscientist and is the rare brilliant expert who can translate laboratory discoveries into everyday life. He opens up the topic, from the latest findings on human feelings caused by stimulating an electrode deep inside an awake brain, to classic studies of psychology, evolution, and neuroscience. This book is sure to inform and delight.”
KENT BERRIDGE, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan

“In this highly accessible survey, Morten Kringelbach describes the brain’s main emotional cogwheels, and explains how pleasures and pains—sometimes merely anticipated or imagined—shape our mental decisions. From the delights of chocolate to the depths of depression, this broad, fast-pacing book should fascinate all readers interested in the mysteries of the emotional brain.”
STANISLAS DEHAENE, Professor of Experimental Cognitive Psychology, Collège de France

“Morten Kringelbach is both a talented journalist and neuroscientist. His interests move effortlessly between philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and the brain sciences. In The Pleasure Center, an eclectic range of ideas and science introduce the reader to the excitement in the neuroscience community about the revelations of the brain systems’ secrets underpinning pleasure, desire, and ultimately happiness, or the lack of it.”
SUE IVERSEN, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Oxford University

“. . . covers a wide range of psychological concepts, and provides a concise summary of the elements that constitute pleasure and desire. The Pleasure Center is a fast-paced book that will capture the attention of anyone interested in the emotional aspects of the human experience . . . the author does an outstanding job of detailing how the elements of pleasure, desire, and emotion come together to significantly influence our lives. Furthermore, Kringelbach sheds light on how an individual’s assessment of a situation or life event is shaped by experiencing various emotions and feeling states. The Pleasure Center reflects Kringelbach’s passion for science and is an excellent introduction into the wonderful world of neuroscience and psychology. It is an ideal book for readers who are just developing an interest in these disciplines.”
Victoria Anderson-Barnes and Jack W. Tsaoa in the Journal of Neurological Sciences

“Kringelbach has created a wide-ranging and very accessible introduction to cognitive science that focuses on pleasure, desire, and emotions generally. The result of Kringelbach’s craft is a fast-moving book that should inform and please (in equally large helpings) any educated readers with limited or no prior knowledge of the area… a very interesting and often exciting foray into the current state of research on how our brains work.”