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Quick Uptakes
June 27, 2001

Surprised by Surprises

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JAMA. 2001;285(24):3080. doi:10.1001/jama.285.24.3080-JQU10005-4-1

Many people crave the unexpected—and researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University may have discovered why.

"Until recently, scientists assumed that the neural reward pathways, which act as high-speed connections to the pleasure centers of the brain, responded to what people like," said Read Montague, PhD, an associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor. "However, when we tested this idea in brain scanning experiments, we found the reward pathways responded much more strongly to the unexpectedness of stimuli instead of to their pleasurable effects."