Tali Sharot, Tamara Shiner, Annemarie C. Brown, Judy Fan, and Raymond J. Dolan (2009)
Human action is strongly influenced by expectations of pleasure. Making decisions, ranging from which products to buy to which job offer to accept, requires an estimation of how good (or bad) the likely outcomes will make us feel. Yet, little is known about the biological basis of subjective estimations of future hedonic reactions. Here, we show that administration of a drug that enhances dopaminergic function (dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine; L-DOPA) during the imaginative construction of positive future life events subsequently enhances estimates of the hedonic pleasure to be derived from these same events. These findings provide the first direct evidence for the role of dopamine in the modulation of subjective hedonic expectations in humans.