Hunger for Stimulation Driven by Dopamine in the Brain

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

Our need for stimulation and dopamine's action on the brain are connected, which explains why people who constantly crave stimulation are in danger of addictive behavior such as drug abuse and gambling.
The urge to actively seek out new experiences is a personality trait psychologists have known about for years. Up until now, scientists have been unable to prove how this urge relates to hormonal activities in the brain.

Now, an international research team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Aarhus and the University of Tokyo have been able to prove for the first time that this hunger for stimulation is greater on average among people who possess more of the gratification hormone dopamine in the brain.

The research team used positron emission tomography (PET) scans at Aarhus University Hospital to map the areas in the brain where dopamine was active among healthy volunteers.

Measurement of dopamine showed the participants who had the strongest urge to seek out new, thrilling experiences had both more dopamine in the brain and more areas in the brain where dopamine was active, explains Albert Gjedde, professor of neurobiology and pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen.

The study results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sandra Szivos

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Review Date: 
September 16, 2010