Monday, September 26, 2005


Dopamine Country

This is simply too interesting to pass up. To summarize, a Dr. Whybrow notes an odd side-effect of a Parkinson's medication. It causes some of the patients to begin obsessively gambling. The medicine's chemical effect is to increase dopamine, and Whybrow goes on (and on - since he's written a book on the subject) to speculate that America is a dopamine-based nation, exhibiting all the behaviors associated with dopamined-up people. Gambling, risk-taking, manic excess, need for stimulation. Going back again and again to that corner of the cage where the stimulus button is. Well, but are we risk taking because of the dopamine or are we full of dopamine because of our risk-taking?

Whichever. The good doctor also notes that in experiments, dopamine-doped subjects respond even more when the outcome is random. I can't resist pointing out how well blogging seems to fit in here, and in particular blog reading. The more randomly spaced the posts, this research suggests, the more stimulated will dopamined readers be to click for new ones.

This blog's stately, 19th century, one long-form essay per evening style doesn't seem to be taking advantage of this syndrome, but then, I do present it as a sort of blogger's respite from blogging.


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