Jan 162008

Fascinating stuff I’m learning in a class called Personality and Its Transformations.

Today, we learned that a certain part of the hypothalamus controls exploratory behaviour, and trigger dopamine (which is a feel-good chemical). Essentially, exploratory behaviour makes us feel good, kinda like how squirrels enjoy foraging for nuts. Cocaine and heroin also affect this area and release dopamine, which helps explain why people on cocaine or heroin start exploring things.  Now, in relation to things like food and water and the relative scarcity of these things in the time that the hypothalamus developed, we have to remember that even if you were full of food, you would still have to go out and keep looking for more sources of food cause your current source might run out. So, evolution helped us to do this sort of behaviour by making it feel really good to us. A lot of games also light up this area and have explorative elements in them.

What this means, overall is that we’re constantly mapping out the territory and looking for sources of food and water, etc. These days, though, information represents those sorts of things. So, we are also looking for information, which would help explain why we’re often reading something when have other stuff to be doing. I doubt I’m the only one to lose a few hours of my life to random Wikipedia clicking.

This might also help explain analysis paralysis. Of course, we have the ability to transcend our baser instincts and make choices to make decisions before we have all the data.

So, looking and finding information gives a similar sort of rush as cocaine. Good to know!

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