Dopamine addiction is an overlooked problem.. Dopamine is the most addictive substance on the planet, a neurotransmitter produced in our own body.
This TEDx video (Media and Children), by Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician, parent, and researcher, shows young mice taking risks after being exposed to TV, 6 hours a day, for 42 days. The mice continued to take more (potentially life threatening) risks the longer they were exposed to TV.
Long term exposure to specific types of media, especially in young developing brains, appears to corrupt the reward system; fewer dopamine receptors. Over-stimulation from media may produce the same effects on the brain as drugs, i.e. heroin and cocaine. These drugs artificially extracts more dopamine from nerve cells in the brain, requiring more to get high or satisfied over time. An abundance of dopamine, due to a low density of dopamine receptors, appears to lead to unhealthy risk-taking. Risk-taking comes in many forms, i.e., drug and alcohol abuse, over eating, aggression, dominance, pornography and sex addiction, etc.
Previous studies have established a strong link between a low density of dopamine receptors and addiction, obesity and compulsive gambling — conditions that suggest an impaired ability to learn from the consequences of bad decisions.
Studies, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, were done using position emission tomography, a PET scan. Scientists mapped out the subjects’ brains, and looked at the dopamine-regulating receptors of novelty-seekers, or risk-takers. What they discovered was that these novelty-seekers had fewer dopamine receptors, meaning that their brains don’t limit the amount of dopamine it produces during exciting activities. The results: a bigger high for these individuals, leading them to continue doing the activities in order to maintain the high.
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