What does it really mean for the brain to experience pleasure? That’s the question neuroscientist David Linden asks in his new book The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good. In it, he traces the origins of pleasure in the human brain and how and why we become addicted to certain food, chemicals and behaviors.
Linden is a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology. When he spoke with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross, he explained that the scientific definition of addiction is actually rooted in the brain’s inability to experience pleasure.