I think everybody at this point knows about Dopamine- but did you know the central role of the reward circuit is played by the Nucleus Accumbens? Maybe so, can’t say I had my eye trained on it at least, prior to it coming up in the “Neural substrates of Valuation” videos on the Neuroeconomics coursera course.
The Nucleus accumbens (NAc) as an interface between emotional and motor structures may play a key role in the control of goal-directed actions by rewards. The NAc might be involved in processes guiding behavior according to predictive information on future reward magnitude, NAc activation is correlated with individual differences in self-reported happiness elicited by reward cues. These finding suggest that the NAc may code for expected incentive magnitude.
I find this interesting especially when compared to the concept of hyperbolic discounting in behavioral economics.
From the wiki on hyperbolic discounting:
Given two similar rewards, humans show a preference for one that arrives sooner rather than later. Humans are said to discount the value of the later reward, by a factor that increases with the length of the delay. This process is traditionally modeled in the form of exponential discounting, a time-consistent model of discounting.