Cravings

November 13, 2011
116 Views

Put an electrode in that part of a rat’s brain, and it will become obsessed with stimulating those areas. When rats are allowed to push a lever in exchange for a mild current that produces a “high” in the “pleasure centers,” they will press the lever up to 7,000 times per hour.

These rats forget to eat or drink, and they must be unhooked to prevent self-starvation. Male rats ignore females in heat to get a fix, and nursing mothers ignore their babies…

Put an electrode in that part of a rat’s brain, and it will become obsessed with stimulating those areas. When rats are allowed to push a lever in exchange for a mild current that produces a “high” in the “pleasure centers,” they will press the lever up to 7,000 times per hour.

These rats forget to eat or drink, and they must be unhooked to prevent self-starvation. Male rats ignore females in heat to get a fix, and nursing mothers ignore their babies…

Yet it’s not just drugs. Brain scans suggest that everything from sugar to sex lights up the brain’s pleasure circuitry. These all can have neurological consequences that correspond to what we think of as addiction. For example: exercise.

Nicholas D. Kristof op-ed here. Book: The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden.