[MUD-Dev] Dopamine and addiction

David Love dlove at nighton.net
Thu Nov 27 17:06:26 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


On Thu, 2003-11-27 at 08:07, Ola Fosheim Grøstad wrote:

> I only have journalistic sources for the following, but there is a
> lot of research around on the relationship between dopamine and
> addiction.  (Dopamine is a chemical substance released in the
> brain's "reward centre" which secures our desire to eat, have sex
> and other vital life-functions.) According to a scandinavian
> newspaper the danish researcher Albert Gjedde believes that
> addiction to computer games, money games and drugs is an illness
> related to a natural lack of dopamine. Thus people try to
> compensate by overusing "tools" which release dopamine.

It's also worth keeping in mind that dopamine falls in the
"neurotransmitter of the week" category.  In the eighties,
neuropsychologists believed dopamine was linked to everything. Now,
its serotonin.  The biggest problem is that many of these studies
are correlative in nature (correlation does NOT imply causation).
As an example, psychologists realized that ice cream sales and
murders in New York City were strongly correlated.  Do murderers eat
ice cream more than regular people?  Does ice cream make you go out
an kill someone?  Actually, when it's hot, more people eat ice
cream.  Heat has also been causally related to anger, so when it's
hot, more people are angry and thus go out and kill people.

In short, it is unsure what behaviors dopamine and serotonin may
actually cause (if any).  It may be best to wait on the research and
then decide the ethical consequences.  Of course, that's what many
said of the tobacco industry.  Obviously, the market (and the US
government) do not care that hindsight is 20/20.  This does make it
an awfully sticky situation.

-D.Love
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