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As people get older, they often lose their motivation to learn new things. This get-up-and-go attitude is vital for our social well-being and learning.
In order to survive, we need to be able to learn what is good for us, and what is bad for us. But, a person may value a reward so highly that the risk of experiencing a possible cost is ignored. Another may wish to avoid the cost to the exclusion of all rewards. This may result in reward-driven learning in some, and cost-driven learning in others.
Neuroscientists have now identified a brain circuit that is critical for maintaining cost and reward motivation.
Researchers are working on possible drug treatments that could stimulate this circuit. They suggest that training patients to enhance activity in this circuit through biofeedback could offer another potential way to improve their cost-benefit evaluations.
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Dopamine plays many roles in the brain. It is related to movement, motivation, and reinforcement of behavior.
Dopamine appears to exert significant effects in two regions of the brain...
Dopamine, like other neurotransmitters, helps neurons communicate with each other over short distances. Most of the brain's dopamine is produced in the midbrain by neurons that connect to the striatum.
High dopamine concentrations do not make the neurons more active. However, they do make the neurons remain active for a more extended period of time, suggesting a longer response to the reward. It may have something to do with how dopamine promotes learning, which is one of its main functions.
Researchers set out to determine if dopamine might affect more distant locations in the brain.
The regions that showed the most significant surges in activity in response to dopamine were the motor cortex and the insular cortex. The findings can help researchers understand the effects of dopamine in the human brain, including its roles in addiction and learning.
It's possible to be completely isolated and feel invigorated.
It is also possible to be surrounded by a crowd or be accompanied by close friends and feel lonely.
Antibiotics may lose their ability to treat bacterial infections.
Scientists have been warning us about the alarming rise in drug-resistant bacteria, but it can be curbed.