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Our brains compute 3 things about reward: how much will we get, how soon will we get it, and how certain are we that we will in fact get it.
And it’s when the probability of a reward hovers at around 50% that dopamine flow is maximal. When the probability of getting it is as high as the probability of not getting it — the point of maximum uncertainty. That’s what turns us on the most.
Games are enticing because you might win but you might not. And video games do it so efficiently, because they ride the tide of computer technology. The balance between winning and losing is continuously adjusted, according to how well you’re doing, as measured in hits and misses, gains and losses, moment by moment. The sweet spot knows you, it finds you. It adjusts to you.
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The reward system in our brain exists to ensure we seek out what we need. If eating nutritious food or being smiled at pleases us, we try to secure more of these stimuli. However, seeking pleasure ...
In 1986, a discovery was made that dopamine did not produce pleasure, but in fact, desire. While dopamine makes us want, pleasure comes from opioids and endocannabinoids ( a kind of marijuana produced in the brain), which paints pleasure on good experiences.
We cannot explain away our minds by brain mechanisms. Brain mechanisms are part of our minds.
Understanding that desire and dread, for instance, share the same brain operations, could help ease schizophrenia symptoms by restricting a particular dopamine neuron that produces fear.
The World Health Organization officially added a new disorder to the section on substance use and addictive behaviors : “
Addiction can include:
The idea that someone can be addicted to a behavior, as opposed to a substance, remains debatable.
The chemistry of the brain changes when a person takes a regular intake of caffeine, as it grows more adenosine receptors.
Eventually, it takes more caffeine to feel the effects, and as there are now more receptors, not having a stimulant results in ‘caffeine withdrawal headache’ and other symptoms due to the original molecule connecting to the increased number of receptors in the brain.