Neuroscience has increasingly explored the neural mechanisms underlying our sense of self. Recent studies have demonstrated the recruitment of regions like the ventral tegmental area, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the ventral striatum to self-specific stimuli - regions typically associated with reward-related processing. This raises the question of whether there is a relationship between self and reward and, if so, how these different fields can be linked. Three relationship models that aim to explore the relationship between self and reward are discussed here: integration, segregation, and parallel processing. Their pros and cons are reviewed in light of the most recent findings. The conclusion is that both the fields of self and reward may benefit from increased interaction. This interaction may help to fill in some of the missing pieces regarding reward-related processing, as well as illuminate how brain function can bring forward the philosophical concept and psychological reality of self.
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