Science

Dopamine – what should we value, risks, or motivation?

Dopamine - what should we value, risks, or motivation

Attention and motivation problems are something that we always have at least once faced. Paying close attention to something can sometimes be really hard and difficult. This is something we would like to improve. Especially after working or studying for quite a long time, it is hard to stay concentrated on the same thing for a long. Thus people address different methods to improve their concentration and motivation.

There are a number of ways to improve concentration and thus inverse the motivation for doing one or another thing, or to fulfilling the task. Many people simply work on themselves, others meditate and some people choose some new methods such as increasing dopamine levels in the brain or taking certain medications, which are believed to be helpful in those situations.

While some people prefer to meditate, others prefer modern and innovative methods of using the maximum potential of the brain. Generally, concentration and motivation, as well as attention, are the key elements to achieving success in one or another thing. Thus it is very important to keep those skills at the top and be efficient.

How does the striatum work?

The studies which have been conducted recently have shown up some very interesting results, which shall be extremely appealing especially to those people who have certain problems with concentration and motivation.

According to the research, ADHD, which is defined as attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, has become very common. While ADHD is not a very usual occasion, similar symptoms have been observed in many people of the age from 18 to 43. Some medications are used for the active treatment of the condition. Methylphenidate, which is sold under the name of Ritalin or any other brand is used for the treatment of ADHD.

These medications act as a stimulant, though it is yet unknown how ecstasy the methylphenidate and similar drugs work and affect the brain as well as improve mental performance. There are some researches conducted through which most of the answers are unclear. What is for sure is that the medication stimulates and increases the level of dopamine in the brain’s motivational sphere, which is also known as the striatum, which is involved in motor functions and reward.

Methylphenidate works in part by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger involved in reward-seeking, movement, and motivation via the brain’s neurons. According to some previous research and studies, the increased level of dopamine in the striatum can motivate people and improve the efficiency of the fulfillment of physical tasks.

New studies

One of the recent studies, which was conducted by Doctor Michael Frank from Brown University has shown some very interesting results. The study was oriented on defining how the dopamine level can stimulate brain functioning and stimulate attention and motivation. Within the study, 50 people from the age of 18 to 43 were involved.

At first sight, the study was very simple. People were given different tasks and correspondingly to that, the different difficulty tasks were rewarded with the different cash. The difficult tasks were valued more, while simple tasks were rewarded with relatively low amounts of money. Within the group of those 50 people, there were some people who had low and high natural dopamine levels in the brain.

Certain stimulants, mostly placebos were given to them in order to increase the dopamine level slightly. After that, they had to choose tasks once again. It showed that people with the increased dopamine level, who would have chosen simple tasks and not risk a lot of money with the naturally low dopamine level would choose more difficult tasks with the increased level of dopamine.

According to the results, it is clear that the dopamine did not help them to be more attentive or to be more concentrated on a task itself, but rather evaluate the reward for the task instead. Full concentration was directed on evaluating the value of the reward for the given task. The brain simply decided whether it is worth spending a lot of effort for a certain task while receiving relatively more money. While the performance of the task did not give much difference, the priorities and the motivation for fulfilling definitely have changed.

This way it can be said that chemicals in our brain and the hormones in the brain which are responsible for decision making as well as for our actions contribute a lot not only to better performance of the brain but to the evaluation of our decision and the reward we get for it.

Can risk-taking be addictive

While all of the above mentioned is definitely an efficient way of treating certain mental conditions, and can definitely improve the overall performance, even while simply motivating us to do something rather difficult and take more risks, it can be addictive. The studies which have been conducted also show that dopamine can be addictive and cause addiction.

People with different interests choose different activities to take up. Those activities sometimes include risks and decision making necessity. One such activity that is all about taking more risks is gambling. While gambling itself is already addictive, people who have relatively high dopamine levels stimulated via the medications tend to be riskier and tend to play even more than the ones who have naturally low levels of dopamine.

Casinos and online casinos are designed in a way to keep people playing, to take more risks for potentially gaining millions. As far as the dopamine is responsible for evaluating the reward for fulfilling certain tasks, it has become very clear why people prefer to have higher dopamine levels and to take higher risks. This shall affect their possibilities and performance as well as efficiency.

Some research was also conducted in North America, with the participation of people who used to play slots online in Canada specifically (as online gambling is not legal in the US). The studies have also shown that people with higher dopamine levels would take rather higher risks, which would have been rewarded decently. This way dopamine and the stimulants which increase the level of dopamine in the brain can be addictive.

The silver lining

It is very hard to choose between having a higher dopamine level which shall assist you in taking rather risky decisions, which shall also affect your performance as well as perhaps increase the reward for certain tasks. Though, it is also important to know the limit and not overuse the medications and drugs like methylphenidate.

While attention disorders are a common problem for many people all over the world, it is still not proved that a high level of dopamine can be an efficient treatment in a long time perspective. So it is always better to control the dosage of the medications as well as find some natural ways to increase the dopamine level aka the coordination and motivation features.

About the author

Steve Murphy

Steve Murphy

Steve Murphy has handled various businesses throughout his career and has a deep domain knowledge. He founded Report Door in an attempt to bring the latest news to its readers. He is glued to the stock market most of the times and just loves being in touch with the developments in the business world.

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