Our thoughts and also behaviors space strongly influenced by affective experiences well-known as drive states. These drive states motivate united state to accomplish goals the are useful to ours survival and also reproduction. This module provides summary of an essential drive states, consisting of information around their neurobiology and also their emotional effects.

You are watching: For a hungry person the consumption of food serves to

Learning Objectives

Identify the key properties of journey statesDescribe organic goals completed by journey statesGive instances of journey statesOutline the neurobiological communication of drive claims such together hunger and also arousalDiscuss the key moderators and also determinants of drive claims such as hunger and also arousalIntroduction

What is the longest you’ve ever before gone there is no eating? A couple of hours? whole day? exactly how did it feel? human beings rely critically top top food because that nutrition and energy, and the lack of food can develop drastic changes, not just in physics appearance, but in thoughts and behaviors. If you’ve ever before fasted because that a day, you more than likely noticed how hunger can take over her mind, directing your attention to foodstuffs you can be eat (a cheesy part of pizza, or maybe some sweet, cold ice cream), and motivating you come obtain and also consume these foods. And once you have actually eaten and also your hunger has been satisfied, your thoughts and also behaviors return to normal.

Hunger is among our most straightforward motivators.

Hunger is a journey state, an affective endure (something you feel, favor the sensation of being tired or hungry) that encourages organisms to accomplish goals that are generally useful to their survival and also reproduction. Like other drive states, such as thirst or sexual arousal, hunger has actually a profound impact on the work of the mind. That affects mental processes, such as perception, attention, emotion, and also motivation, and also influences the actions that these processes generate.

Key properties of drive States

Drive states differ from other affective or emotional states in terms of the organic functions castle accomplish. Whereas all affective claims possess valence (i.e., lock are hopeful or negative) and serve to motivate method or avoidance behaviors (Zajonc, 1998), drive states are unique in the they generate habits that an outcome in specific benefits because that the body. Because that example, hunger directs people to eat foods items that increase blood street levels in the body, while thirst causes individuals to drink fluids that rise water level in the body.

Different drive states have various triggers. Most drive states respond to both internal and external cues, yet the combinations of internal and also external cues, and also the specific varieties of cues, differ in between drives. Hunger, because that example, counts on internal, visceral signals as well as sensory signals, such as the vision or odor of tasty food. Different drive claims also an outcome in different cognitive and emotional states, and also are linked with various behaviors. Yet in spite of these differences, there are a number of properties typical to all drive states.


Humans, like all organisms, need to keep a stable state in their various physiological systems. Because that example, the too much loss of body water outcomes in dehydration, a dangerous and potentially deadly state. However, too much water deserve to be damaging as well. Thus, a moderate and stable level of body fluid is ideal. The propensity of an biology to keep this stability throughout all the various physiological equipment in the body is referred to as homeostasis.

Homeostasis is maintained via two vital factors. First, the state that the mechanism being regulated should be monitored and compared to perfect level, or a collection point. Second, there should be instrument for relocating the system earlier to this collection point—that is, to gain back homeostasis as soon as deviations from it are detected. To better understand this, think of the thermostat in your own home. It detects as soon as the existing temperature in the house is different than the temperature you have it collection at (i.e., the collection point). As soon as the thermostat recognizes the difference, the heating or waiting conditioning turns on to bring the as whole temperature back to the designated level.

The body needs homeostasis and motivates united state - through both pleasure and also pain - to remain in balance.

Many homeostatic mechanisms, such together blood circulation and immune responses, room automatic and also nonconscious. Others, however, show off deliberate action. Many drive says motivate activity to restore homeostasis making use of both “punishments” and also “rewards.” Imagine the these homeostatic instrument are favor molecular parents. As soon as you act poorly by departing from the set point (such as not eating or being somewhere also cold), they raise your voice in ~ you. You experience this together the negative feelings, or “punishments,” of hunger, thirst, or feeling also cold or too hot. However, when you behave well (such together eating nutritious foodstuffs when hungry), these homeostatic parental reward you v the pleasure that originates from any task that moves the system earlier toward the collection point. Because that example, as soon as body temperature declines listed below the collection point, any activity that helps to gain back homeostasis (such as putting one’s hand in warm water) feels pleasurable; and likewise, once body temperature rises above the collection point, anything the cools that feels pleasurable.

The Narrowing of Attention

As drive states intensify, they direct attention toward elements, activities, and also forms of consumption that satisfy the biological needs connected with the drive. Hunger, because that example, color etc attention toward food. Outcomes and also objects that are not related to satisfying hunger shed their value (Easterbrook, 1959). Because that instance, has actually anyone ever invited friend to execute a fun task while you to be hungry? most likely your solution was other like: “I’m not doing anything until I eat first.” Indeed, at a enough level of intensity, people will sacrifice almost any amount of items that carry out not resolve the requirements signaled by the journey state. For example, cocaine addicts, according to Gawin (1991:1581), “report that practically all think are focused on cocaine throughout binges; nourishment, sleep, money, love ones, responsibility, and survival lose all significance.”

Drive states also produce a second form of attention-narrowing: a collapsing that time-perspective towards the present. That is, castle make united state impatient. While this kind of attention-narrowing is an especially pronounced for the outcomes and behaviors directly related come the biological role being served by the drive state at issue (e.g., “I need food now”), it applies to general comes to for the future as well. Ariely and Loewenstein (2006), because that example, investigated the impact of sex-related arousal ~ above the thoughts and behaviors the a sample of masculine undergraduates. This undergraduates to be lent laptop computers that they required to their personal residences, wherein they answered a series of questions, both in normal states and also in states of high sex-related arousal. Ariely and also Loewenstein uncovered that being sexually aroused made human being extremely irritated for both sex-related outcomes and for outcomes in various other domains, such together those involving money. In one more study Giordano et al. (2002) uncovered that heroin addicts were much more impatient v respect come heroin when they to be craving it than once they were not. An ext surprisingly, they to be also much more impatient towards money (they valued delay money less) as soon as they were actively craving heroin.

Yet a third kind of attention-narrowing involves thoughts and also outcomes regarded the self versus others. Intense drive states tend to small one’s emphasis inwardly and also to weaken altruism—or the desire to do an excellent for others. Civilization who are hungry, in pain, or craving drugs often tend to be selfish. Indeed, renowned interrogation techniques involve depriving people of sleep, food, or water, so as to trigger intense drive says leading the topic of the interrogation to divulge information that might betray comrades, friends, and family (Biderman, 1960).

Two Illustrative journey States

Thus far we have thought about drive says abstractly. Us have debated the means in which they relate to various other affective and also motivational mechanisms, as well as their main biological purpose and also general impacts on thought and behavior. Yet, despite serving the same more comprehensive goals, different drive says are regularly remarkably different in terms of their specific properties. To recognize some the these specific properties, we will explore two different drive states that play an extremely important duties in identify behavior, and also in ensuring human survival: hunger and also sexual arousal.


External cues, like the sight and also smell that food, deserve to ignite feelings of hunger.

Hunger is a classic example that a drive state, one that outcomes in thoughts and also behaviors related to the consumption of food. Hunger is generally triggered by short glucose levels in the blood (Rolls, 2000), and behaviors result from hunger aim to reclaim homeostasis regarding those glucose levels. Various other internal and external cues can additionally cause hunger. Because that example, when fats are damaged down in the body for energy, this initiates a chemical cue that the body need to search because that food (Greenberg, Smith, & Gibbs, 1990). Outside cues encompass the time of day, approximated time until the following feeding (hunger increases immediately prior to food consumption), and the sight, smell, taste, and even touch that food and food-related stimuli. Keep in mind that while hunger is a generic feeling, it has nuances that can provoke the eating of particular foods the correct for nutritional inequalities we may not also be mindful of. Because that example, a couple who was shed adrift in ~ sea uncovered they inexplicably started to crave the eyes of fish. Just later, ~ they had been rescued, go they learn that fish eyes are rich in vitamin C—a an extremely important nutrient that they had actually been depleted that while lost in the ocean (Walker, 2014).

The hypothalamus (located in the lower, main part that the brain) plays a very important duty in eat behavior. The is responsible because that synthesizing and secreting assorted hormones. The lateral hypothalamus (LH) is involved largely v hunger and, in fact, lesions (i.e., damage) that the LH can eliminate the desire for eating entirely—to the suggest that pets starve us to fatality unless retained alive by force feeding (Anand & Brobeck, 1951). Additionally, artificially stimulating the LH, using electrical currents, have the right to generate eating habits if food is accessible (Andersson, 1951).

Activation the the LH can not only increase the desirability that food however can likewise reduce the desirability the nonfood-related items. For example, Brendl, Markman, and also Messner (2003) discovered that participants that were given a handful of popcorn to cause hunger not just had greater ratings the food products, but additionally had reduced ratings that nonfood products—compared through participants who appetites were not similarly primed. That is, due to the fact that eating had actually become an ext important, various other non-food commodities lost some of their value.

Hunger is only component of the story the when and why us eat. A related process, satiation, describes the decrease of hunger and the ultimate termination of eat behavior. Conversely, the feeling of hunger it s okay you to begin eating, the feeling of satiation it s okay you to stop. Maybe surprisingly, hunger and also satiation space two distinct processes, managed by various circuits in the brain and prompted by various cues. Unique from the LH, which plays critical role in hunger, the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) plays an important role in satiety. Though lesions that the VMH can reason an pet to overeat come the point of obesity, the relationship between the LH and the VMB is rather complicated. Rats with VMH lesions can also be quite finicky around their food (Teitelbaum, 1955).

Other brain areas, besides the LH and also VMH, likewise play vital roles in eat behavior. The sensory cortices (visual, olfactory, and taste), for example, are necessary in identify food items. These areas carry out informational value, however, no hedonic evaluations. The is, this areas assist tell a person what is an excellent or for sure to eat, yet they don’t administer the satisfied (or hedonic) sensations that actually eat the food produces. While countless sensory attributes are about stable across different mental states, other functions, such as the detection the food-related stimuli, are enhanced when the organism is in a hungry drive state.

After identify a food item, the brain also requirements to determine its reward value, i beg your pardon affects the organism’s an inspiration to consume the food. The reward worth ascribed to a certain item is, no surprisingly, sensitive to the level of hunger knowledgeable by the organism. The hungrier friend are, the better the reward worth of the food. Neurons in the locations where prize values space processed, such as the orbitofrontal cortex, fire more rapidly in ~ the sight or taste the food once the biology is hungry loved one to if it is satiated.

Sexual Arousal

Unlike other drive claims the mechanisms that create sexual arousal space not the same for men and women.

A second drive state, especially vital to reproduction, is sexual arousal. Sexual arousal results in thoughts and behaviors regarded sexual activity. Just like hunger, it is produced by a large range of internal and external mechanisms the are motivated either ~ the extended lack of sexual activity or by the immediate presence and possibility the sexual task (or by cues commonly associated with together possibilities). Uneven hunger, however, this mechanisms can differ substantially in between males and also females, indicating important evolutionary distinctions in the organic functions that sexual arousal offer for different sexes.

Sexual arousal and also pleasure in males, because that example, is strongly pertained to the preoptic area, a region in the anterior hypothalamus (or the front of the hypothalamus). If the preoptic area is damaged, male sexual actions is severely impaired. For example, rats the have had actually prior sex-related experiences will certainly still seek out sexual partners after their preoptic area is lesioned. However, once having secured a sexual partner, rats v lesioned preoptic locations will present no further inclination to actually initiate sex.

For females, though, the preoptic area fulfills different roles, such as functions involved with eat behaviors. Instead, over there is a different region of the brain, the ventromedial hypothalamus (the lower, central part) that plays a similar function for females as the preoptic area does because that males. Neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus recognize the excretion the estradiol, one estrogen hormone the regulates sexual receptivity (or the willingness to expropriate a sex-related partner). In plenty of mammals, this neurons send impulses to the periaqueductal gray (a region in the midbrain) i m sorry is responsible for protective behaviors, such as freezing immobility, running, rises in blood pressure, and other engine responses. Typically, these protective responses can keep the mrs rat from interacting with the male one. However, during sexual arousal, these protective responses are weakened and also lordosis behavior, a physical sex-related posture the serves as an invitation to mate, is initiated (Kow and Pfaff, 1998). Thus, while the preoptic area encourages males to engage in sex-related activity, the ventromedial hypothalamus fulfills that function for females.

Other differences between males and females indicate overlapping features of neural modules. These neural modules often provide clues around the biological roles played by sexual arousal and sexual activity in males and also females. Areas of the mind that are essential for male sexuality overlap to a an excellent extent with areas that are likewise associated v aggression. In contrast, locations important for female sexuality overlap broadly with those that are also connected to nurturance (Panksepp, 2004).

One an ar of the brain that seems to play an important role in sexual pleasure because that both males and females is the septal nucleus, an area the receives reciprocal relationships from plenty of other mind regions, consisting of the hypothalamus and also the amygdala (a an ar of the brain primarily involved with emotions). This an ar shows substantial activity, in terms of rhythmic spiking, during sexual orgasm. That is additionally one that the mind regions that rats will many reliably voluntarily self-stimulate (Olds & Milner, 1954). In humans, put a small amount of acetylcholine right into this region, or stimulating it electrically, has been report to create a feeling of unavoidable orgasm (Heath, 1964).


Drive states are evolved motivational mechanisms designed come ensure the organisms take self-beneficial actions. In this module, we have actually reviewed an essential properties of journey states, such as homeostasis and the narrowing of attention. Us have also discussed, in some detail, two crucial drive states—hunger and also sexual arousal—and explored their underlying neurobiology and also the methods in which assorted environmental and also biological factors influence their properties.

There are numerous drive claims besides hunger and sexual arousal that affect humans top top a everyday basis. Fear, thirst, exhaustion, exploratory and maternal drives, and drug cravings are all drive claims that have been studied by researcher (see e.g., Buck, 1999; valve Boven & Loewenstein, 2003). Although this drive claims share some of the properties questioned in this module, each likewise has distinctive features that permit it to effectively fulfill its evolutionary function.

One key difference between drive claims is the extent to which lock are prompted by inner as opposed to external stimuli. Thirst, because that example, is induced both by diminished fluid levels and an boosted concentration of salt in the body. Fear, on the other hand, is induced by viewed threats in the external environment. Drug cravings are motivated both by internal homeostatic mechanisms and by exterior visual, olfactory, and also contextual cues. Various other drive states, such as those pertaining come maternity, are motivated by specific events in the organism’s life. Differences such as these do the study of drive claims a scientifically interesting and also important endeavor. Drive says are rich in their diversity, and also many questions involving their neurocognitive underpinnings, environmental determinants, and behavioral effects, have yet to be answered.

One final thing come consider, not disputed in this module, relates come the real-world consequences of drive states. Hunger, sexual arousal, and other drive states are all emotional mechanisms the have evolved gradually over millions of years. Us share this drive states not just with our human being ancestors but with various other animals, such as monkeys, dogs, and also rats. It is no surprising then that these drive states, in ~ times, lead us to law in methods that room ill-suited to our modern-day lives. Consider, because that example, the weight problems epidemic the is affect countries approximately the world. Prefer other diseases of affluence, weight problems is a product of drive says that room too conveniently fulfilled: homeostatic mechanisms that once worked well once food to be scarce currently backfire when meals affluent in fat and sugar are readily available. Unrestricted sex-related arousal can have an in similar way perverse results on ours well-being. Many politicians have actually sacrificed their whole life’s work-related (not to cite their marriages) through indulging adulterous sex-related impulses toward colleagues, staffers, prostitutes, and also others end whom they have social or jae won power. It not an overstatement come say that numerous problems the the 21st century, from college massacres to weight problems to medicine addiction, are affected by the mismatch in between our journey states and also our uniquely contemporary ability to meet them in ~ a moment’s notice.

Outside Resources

Web: An open up textbook chapter on homeostasishttp://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Human_Physiology/HomeostasisWeb: motivation and emotion in psychologyhttp://allpsych.com/psychology101/motivation_emotion.htmlWeb: The scientific research of sexual arousalhttp://www.apa.org/monitor/apr03/arousal.aspx

Discussion Questions

The ability to maintain homeostasis is crucial for an organism’s survival. What room the means in which homeostasis guarantee survival? Do different drive states attain homeostatic goals differently?Drive states result in the narrowing of attention toward the present and also toward the self. Which drive states bring about the many pronounced narrowing that attention towards the present? Which drive states lead to the many pronounced narrowing that attention towards the self?What are vital differences in between hunger and sexual arousal, and also in what ways do these distinctions reflect the biological needs the hunger and also sexual arousal have been progressed to address?Some of the nature of sex-related arousal vary throughout males and also females. What various other drives states impact males and females differently? room there drive states that vary with other differences in people (e.g., age)?


Drive stateAffective experiences the motivate biology to satisfy goals that space generally advantageous to your survival and also reproduction.HomeostasisThe tendency of an organism to maintain a secure state across all the various physiological systems in the body.Homeostatic set pointAn best level that the device being regulated have to be monitored and also compared to.HypothalamusA portion of the mind involved in a variety of functions, consisting of the secretion of miscellaneous hormones and the regulation of hunger and sexual arousal.LordosisA physical sex-related posture in females the serves as an invitation to mate.Preoptic areaA region in the anterior hypothalamus connected in generating and regulating male sex-related behavior.Reward valueA neuropsychological measure of an outcome’s affective prominence to one organism.SatiationThe state that being complete to satisfaction and also no longer desiring to take it on more.

See more: What Happens When Zinc Metal Is Mixed With Hydrochloric Acid What Is Produced


Anand, B. K., & Brobeck, J. R. (1951). Hypothalamic manage of food entry in rats and also cats. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, 24(2), 123.Andersson, B. (1951). The effect and localization of electric stimulation of particular parts that the mind stem in sheep and goats. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 23(1), 8–23.Ariely, D., & Loewenstein, G. (2006). The warmth of the moment: The impact of sexual arousal on sexual decision making. Journal of behavior Decision Making, 19(2), 87–98Biderman, A. D. (1960). Social-psychological needs and also “involuntary” behavior as illustrated by compliance in interrogation. Sociometry, 23(2), 120–147.Brendl, C. M., Markman, A. B., & Messner, C. (2003). The devaluation effect: Activating a require devalues unrelated objects. Journal of consumer Research, 29(4), 463–473.Buck, R. (1999). The organic affects: A typology. Psychological Review, 106, 301–336.Easterbrook, J. A. (1959). The effect of feeling on cue utilization and also the organization of behavior. Psychological Review, 66(3).Gawin, F. H. (1991). Cocaine addiction: psychology and also neurophysiology. Science, 251(5001), 1580–1586.Giordano, L. A., Bickel, W. K., Loewenstein, G., Jacobs, E. A., Marsch, L., & Badger, G. J. (2002). Gentle opioid deprivation boosts the level that opioid-dependent outpatients discount delay heroin and also money. Psychopharmacology, 163(2), 174–182.Greenberg, D., Smith, G. P., & Gibbs, J. (1990). Intraduodenal infusions of fat elicit satiety in sham-feeding rats. American newspaper of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative, and also Comparative Physiology, 259(1), 110–118.Heath, R. G. (1964). Pleasure solution of human subjects to straight stimulation the the brain: Physiologic and also psychodynamic considerations. In R. G. Pagan (Ed.), The role of pleasure in behavior (pp. 219–243). Brand-new York, NY: Hoeber.Kow, L. M., & Pfaff, D. W. (1998). Mapping that neural and signal transduction pathways because that lordosis in the search for estrogen action on the main nervous system. Behavioural mind Research, 92(2), 169–180Olds, J., & Milner, P. (1954). Optimistic reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation that septal area and also other areas of rat brain. Journal of Comparative and also Physiological Psychology, 47(6), 419.Panksepp, J. (2004). Affective neuroscience: The foundations of human and animal emotions (Vol. 4). Brand-new York, NY: Oxford University press U.S.Rolls, E. T. (2000). The orbitofrontal cortex and also reward. Cerebral Cortex, 10(3), 284-294.Teitelbaum, P. (1955). Sensory regulate of hypothalamic hyperphagia. Journal the Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 48(3), 156.Van Boven, L., & Loewenstein, G. (2003). Estimate of transient journey states. Personality and also Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1159–1168.Walker, P. (2014). Castaway"s sea savvy might have aided him survive year adrift, states expert. The Guardian. Retried from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/04/castaway-jose-salvador-alvarenga-survival-expertZajonc, R. B. (1998). Emotions. In Gilbert, D. T., Fiske, S. T., & Lindzey, G. (Eds.), The handbook of society psychology (Vols. 1 and also 2, fourth ed., pp. 591–632). Brand-new York, NY: McGraw-Hill.