Re: Spoiled reward-pathway hypothesis II (learning-machines)

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Fri Aug 31 2001 - 15:02:12 BST

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    Philip Jonkers wrote:
    > Quoting Chris Taylor <>:
    > > That's a nice twist on things - I like the idea that a brain
    > > designed to be challenged with diverse input has some spare
    > > capacity that will be utilised by something, and is therefore
    > > easily filled with a 'junk meme' or whatever you want to call
    > > it. This is a bit like something I saw a while ago about
    > > depressed zoo animals raising their own seratonin
    > > through repetitive physical acts (it was heartbreaking
    > > actually, but interesting too).
    > The point in my hypothesis is not that the brain did not evolve
    > to have a spare capacity reserved for addiction, but rather
    > that through the gene-meme co-evolution the brain has attained
    > an affinity to sponsor addictive behavior. Furthermore, it seems
    > that one quarter of the population seems to carry a gene which
    > actually stimulates addictive behavior by being responsible for
    > the construction of less sensitive dopamine receptors; it's the
    > A1 allele of the D1 dopaminergic receptor gene. Other alleles
    > yield more sensitive D1 receptors and hence don't require as
    > much stimuli. The A1 allele is found to be much more prevalent
    > among addicts (of whatever kind) than non-addicts. Less senstive
    > D1 receptors may indicate that brains owning these receptors
    > require a lot of stimuli, healthy or unhealthy.

    People talk about the positive (emotionally speaking) aspects of ritual
    behaviour (listening to well known music, performing daily tasks) as
    again being comforting (and therefore anti-depressive). Perhaps if you
    do something regularly, the brain gives it an artificial added value to
    allow what is patently a regular need to be fulfilled without the usual
    boredom thing creeping in.

    > Physical exercise is known to raise neurotransmitter levels
    > (in particular serotonine, dopamine and endorphines,
    > as far as I know). As our culture develops physical activity
    > becomes increasingly superfluous (means of transport, TV, computers
    > etc.). Accoring to my hypothesis, we then need to get our
    > kicks elsewhere. So again it's our culture luring us into
    > addiction. (Don't worry I'm not that negative about culture!)

    Yeah I'd buy that one too.

    > > Also, I find personally that many of my (minor all the way up to
    > > compulsive) habits and psychological addictions (such as the act of
    > > smoking even when I'm chock full of nicotine) disappear when I'm
    > > busy...
    > Interesting... why don't you swap smoking for sports and still
    > be able to maintain high dopamine levels... (it's easier
    > said than done, right?)


     Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

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