'Adventure Center' Explains Why Brain Craves New Sensations
Newness Factor Weighs in on BrainBecause choosing a new picture in a psychology experiment is just like intravenous cocaine...
By ALLYSON T. COLLINS
ABC News Medical UnitJune 25, 2008—...Humans may be wired to seek out new experiences, according to a study published Wednesday in the online edition of the journal Neuron [Wittmann et al., 2008]....During the study, [Bianca] Wittmann and her colleagues looked at people's brain activity through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)...When people chose new images, Wittmann says that an area deep in the brain called the ventral striatum lit up on the fMRI scans. The ventral striatum is thought to be involved in emotions and behavior, including addictions."When people shoot up stimulant drugs like cocaine, they tend to trigger activity in this system," [Dr. David] Spiegel says.When activated, nerve cells in the ventral striatum release a chemical called dopamine, which stimulates feelings of enjoyment and pleasure.Even for the average person, not just people who use drugs, Wittmann says that the emotions brought about by the release of dopamine are "a large part of what keeps us going and what makes us get up in the morning"; they are our internal reward system for certain behaviors.It may be these feel-good sensations that caused the participants to keep selecting the new images.
Left panel taken from Fig. 1 of Wittmann et al. (2008).
How nice. I guess their hard-hitting criticism of the oxytocin media neurohype was short-lived...
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