And this is what I learned today, starting at 26:30 into this speech:
So…dopamine isn’t about reward, it’s about the anticipation of reward. And if you block the dopamine rise from occurring you won’t get the work done, which means that dopamine isn’t only about the anticipation of reward, it’s also about goal-directed behavior. Perhaps most interesting of all: if a “maybe” is introduced into the equation, i.e. if you don’t get the reward 100% of the time, your dopamine will increase even more. So there you have it, the reason we are suckers for playing lotteries, slot machines and other games of chance.
Do watch the whole clip and just bask in the genius of Robert Sapolsky. And, not the least, in the fact that someone who is one of the most outstanding professors at the second best university in the world can look this cool.