Your Lizard Brain Makes You Read This

Your Lizard Brain Makes You Read This

Doctor Irving Biederman is a neuroscientist at USC. He's been studying volunteers' brain activity while showing them a series of pictures of various subjects. His human guinea pigs had the greatest brain activity when shown a scene that "presented new information that somehow needed to be interpreted," and were offered in the format of a "good vantage on a landscape and an element of mystery." Viewing such images literally releases pleasure-causing chemicals in your body, and work on the most primitive parts of our brain. Behold: it's the reason you can't stop reading the Internet.

When he hooked up volunteers to a brain-scanning machine, the preferred pictures were shown to generate much more brain activity than the unpreferred shots. While researchers don't yet know what exactly these brain scans signify, a likely possibility involves increased production of the brain's pleasure-enhancing neurotransmitters called opioids.

In other words, coming across what Dr. Biederman calls new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it. The reverse is true as well: We want to avoid not getting those hits because, for one, we are so averse to boredom.

It is something we seem hard-wired to do, says Dr. Biederman. When you find new information, you get an opioid hit, and we are junkies for those. You might call us 'infovores.' "

For most of human history, there was little chance of overdosing on information, because any one day in the Olduvai Gorge was a lot like any other. Today, though, we can find in the course of a few hours online more information than our ancient ancestors could in their whole lives.

Especially if you read HotHardware. We've noticed Cro-Magnon men didn't know anything about motherboards.

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That's incredibly fascinating! So this could explain scientifically why we as humans lust for exploration and discovery. Cool!

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Is it me or does the word DUh come to mind.  Learning something interesting to you is fun. I didnt even need a brain scan.

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Not so much learning ANYTHING but it seems each specific person feels good about learning/seeing specific things -- what I would like to know is, what in a brain makes you feel good about certain things but not others....or EVERYTHING for that matter

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News:
new and richly interpretable information triggers a chemical reaction that makes us feel good, which in turn causes us to seek out even more of it.
 

Do scantilly clad beautiful women qualify as "new and richly interpretable information"? If so, then I would have to tell this Dr. Biederman no sh*t. Seriously though, of course as human beings we are interested in learning new things and thus derive pleasure from discovering new information about that which interests us. Hardly a ground breaking discovery.

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Never ceases to amaze me how scientists manage to scientifically discover thing that are commen knowalage and common sense using untold publically funded money. 

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you know if they donated half the money they spent on stuff like this to medical research we could have cured cancer already 

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frg1:

you know if they donated half the money they spent on stuff like this to medical research we could have cured cancer already 

 

Unfortunately I don't think too many researchers are looking for cures to health problems anymore. Since nearly all research grants are paid for by pharmacuetical companies, they are more interested in a pill you take for the rest of your life that will manage your symptoms, rather than a pill you take once that will cure them. It's true that there are privately funded researchers actually looking for cures, but they have become the exception instead of the rule.

 

I know this comment is a bit of a digression from the original topic, but since it's still about research there is a hint of underlying correlation. 

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