eli5 why does our brain like the reward system?

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eli5 why does our brain like the reward system?

In: Chemistry

It is debatable egg or chicken comes first. But one way to think of it is the whole thing is just about unconditional reaction. Living creatures have basic needs like foods. When you satisfy that need your brain kicks in and say well this is good. And in the old days rewards usually comes in a form of satisfying these needs. It creates a chain of reaction where do-something-right => rewards => satisfaction.
With time although the rewards isn’t directly tied to our basic needs anymore, it is implicit and our brain predicts that there is satisfaction along the way, hence it likes it.

Everything comes down to satisfaction. It explains why you can encourage the rightness of actions through a reward system. Because we don’t really know what is “right or wrong” before hand, we act according to the awaited satisfaction. The reward is a bridge.

Let’s rewind the clock.

You’re a single celled organism that needs to consume specific molecules to turn them into energy to create other molecules to sustain yourself. You’ve already been lucky enough to be part of a chain of mutations that give you some ability to propel yourself.

You get a mutation that makes it easier for you to identify these molecules, and now you instinctively propel yourself towards them.

Now fast forward a billion years through trillions of random mutations and a chain of causation that leads you to the mammalian brain — a brain that has been selected to:

1. See a thing in our environment we need to sustain life, or better, reproduce
2. Instinctively do things to go get that thing
3. Get a rush of chemicals that tell us “going and getting that thing was awesome, let’s do it again”

It was, and perhaps is, the lowest common denominator for getting life to survive.