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

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Tue Sep 04 2001 - 16:36:50 BST

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    Subject: Re: Spoiled reward-pathway hypothesis II (learning-machines)
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    > > The point in my hypothesis is not that the brain did not evolve
    > > to have a spare capacity reserved for addiction, but rather

    Oops, I sense a double negation over here: skip the second
    `not' please...

    > > 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.

    I think, the trick is that activity accompanied by feelings
    of satisfaction are stimulated to be repeated. Among other things,
    the chemistry of the brain is designed to handle this, by
    emitting feelings of reward and satisfaction.
    Non-boring rituals and daily practise all qualify for that
    If activities are perceived as boring, however, the brain
    simply refrains from sufficiently issuing feelings of reward.
    The person in question ought to be motivated to seek
    satisfaction elsewhere.

    On the other hand, it is precisely the very non-boring rituals
    and practises which are potentially addictive since they are
    accompanied by reward rushes (of varying intensity of course).
    In general any activity that is satisfying can be addictive.

    After doing a little thinking and tapping into my memory banks,
    I came up with the following list mentioning source and reason
    for possible addiction:

    Drugs/alcohol - intervening directly on the brain chemistry,
            giving direct chemical satisfaction.
    Gambling - performing the act of gambling is rewarded,
               on top of the occasional winning.
    Sex - after having sex, the brain responds by emitting feelings
          of satisfaction so the activity is promoted to be repeated.
    Obesity - eating is satisfying, again to warrant repetition, hence
              addictive too.
    Anorexia, boulimia - the sufferer actually is rewarded for NOT
              eating (or vomitting?) to aknowledge the effort to
              try to reduce the halucinatory gap between the
              sufferer and a cosmetic ideal (model).
    S&M - due to some chronic malfuctioning in the brain,
           pain is perceived as rewarding.
    Work - work can be addictive since success or acknowledgement from
           peers triggers reward (workaholics).
    Sports - sports enhances NT levels, as many marathon runners
             can attest (runners high).
    Thrill - thrills can be addictive through delivering adrenaline
             rushes (watch MTV extreme sports to see some
             adrenaline junkees). Especially males, who are more
             reckless than females, are liable for addiction.
             I bet there's some good old dopamine involved too.

    Hell, the kid brother of one of my friends claims to be addicted
    to watching skate-movies. He supposedly gets cranky when not
    being able to have seen a skate-movie for two days!

    Anyway, the list goes on and on....
    To be honest, participating in this very mailing list
    can be addictive!





    > > 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?)
    > Right.
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > Chris Taylor (
    > »people»chris
    > ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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