The role of endorphins in animal learning and behavior

Anthony L. Riley, Debra A. Zellner, Heather J. Duncan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The present review examined the influence of endorphins in animal learning and behavior. It was suggested that in learning paradigms involving stress, the stressor elicits the release of endorphins. Given the evidence on endorphin-mediated, stress-induced analgesia, it was further suggested that the stress-induced release of endorphins modulates the aversiveness of the stressor, and as such, affects the learning based on this stressor. A number of learning paradigms, e.g., the conditioned emotional response, preference for signaled shock, conditioned taste aversions, and learned helplessness, were presented in support of this mediation of learning by the endorphins. A possible interaction between the endorphins and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was offered as a physiological basis for this mediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1980


  • ACTH
  • Analgesia
  • Conditioned emotional response
  • Conditioned taste aversions
  • Endorphins
  • Learning
  • Signaled shock


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