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Entries in amygdala (2)

Monday
Feb182013

Gamblers

Kenny Rogers, 1978

Research on the neuroscience of gambling featured in The Economist and  marketing practices used within the casino industry itself as detailed in the "Blackjack" episode of This American Life suggest gamblers are not addicted to winning.

Gambling addicts are addicted to having nearly won. Their brains crave losing by the smallest of margins more than winning itself. A maladaptation of the amygdala seems critical.

"The researchers found that those who scored highest in gambling severity also showed the most activity in the midbrain area in response to near misses. (They did not differ in their response to real wins, however.)

"This area of the brain is of interest to researchers because it is where dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is produced. Dopamine has been implicated in other addiction studies. It could be the near misses that enhance dopamine transmission in gamblers who suffer the most severe problems, the study suggests."

Abstract: "Gambling Severity Predicts Midbrain Respons to Near-Miss Outcomes," Henry Chase and Luke Clark, Society for Neuroscience, 2010.

PDF: "Neurobehavioral Evidence for the 'Near-Miss' Effect in Pathological Gamblers," Reza Habib and Mark Dixon, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 2010.

Saturday
May122012

Notes from Body Worlds: Brain

We are not born with a sense of self. It emerges at around age two.

Unconscious memory controls 90% of our actions and reactions.

During creativity, the hormone dopamine stimulates neural networks in the frontal brain. These networks at the front of the brain connect with long-term memory at the back of the brain.

There are six basic emotions:

  • anger
  • joy
  • surprise
  • fear
  • distress
  • disgust

The facial expression for each is recognized across cultures.

Sensory input begins in the thalamus. The amygdala processes emotion for how you feel about the input, and the prefrontal cortex asks if what you feel is rational.

The brain is 2% of body weight but requires 20% of the blood supply.

Why does a car have brakes? Not so it can stop, but so it can drive fast.