Risks... The Dopamine made me do it

MA-Caver

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Why We Take Risks - It's the Dopamine

(read the full article) http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20081231/hl_time/08599186910600
By ALICE PARK Alice Park – Wed Dec 31, 2:25 am ET

Risk-taking, by definition, defies logic. Reason can't explain why people do unpredictable things - like betting on blackjack or jumping out of planes - for little or, sometimes, no reward at all. There's the thrill, of course, but those brief moments of ecstasy aren't enough to keep most risk takers coming back for more - which they do, again and again, like addicts.
A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City suggests a biological explanation for why certain people tend to live life on the edge - it involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, the brain's feel-good chemical. (See the Year in Health, from A to Z.)
Dopamine is responsible for making us feel satisfied after a filling meal, happy when our favorite football team wins, or really happy when we use stimulating drugs like amphetamines or cocaine, which can artificially squeeze more dopamine out of the nerve cells in our brain. It's also responsible for the high we feel when we do something daring, like skiing down a double black diamond slope or skydiving out of a plane. In the risk taker's brain, researchers report in the Journal of Neuroscience, there appear to be fewer dopamine-inhibiting receptors - meaning that daredevils' brains are more saturated with the chemical, predisposing them to keep taking risks and chasing the next high: driving too fast, drinking too much, overspending or even taking drugs.
David Zald, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt, studied whether the brains of those thrill seekers differed in any way from those of the less adventuresome when it comes to dopamine. He gave 34 men and women a questionnaire to assess their novelty-seeking tendencies, then scanned their brains using a technique called positron emission tomography to figure out how many dopamine receptors the participants had. Zald and his team were on the lookout for a particular dopamine-regulating receptor, which monitors levels of the neurotransmitter and signals brain cells to stop churning it out when there's enough.
I wonder at the risks that we as Martial Artists take each time we compete in a tournament. Risk that a competitor will hit us the wrong way and seriously injure us or we strike wrong and hurt someone else without meaning to. The breaking of boards or bricks is a risk that we will break our hands (or feet) instead.
But there are other things that we do that can be defined as risks and they're just as bad or potentially dangerous. I get on a 7/16th of an inch nylon rope and go into a controlled freefall down a deep (cave or mine) shaft. Was it worth it... only if it's done safely as possible. Was it a risk? Sure. Was it to feed my dopamine addiction? Maybe (ok, denial).

What are your thoughts about the risks that we sometimes take to make us feel better about ourselves or to get that thrill of winning or doing something?
This bears discussion I think.
 

BrandonLucas

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I wonder at the risks that we as Martial Artists take each time we compete in a tournament. Risk that a competitor will hit us the wrong way and seriously injure us or we strike wrong and hurt someone else without meaning to. The breaking of boards or bricks is a risk that we will break our hands (or feet) instead.
But there are other things that we do that can be defined as risks and they're just as bad or potentially dangerous. I get on a 7/16th of an inch nylon rope and go into a controlled freefall down a deep (cave or mine) shaft. Was it worth it... only if it's done safely as possible. Was it a risk? Sure. Was it to feed my dopamine addiction? Maybe (ok, denial).

What are your thoughts about the risks that we sometimes take to make us feel better about ourselves or to get that thrill of winning or doing something?
This bears discussion I think.

Whether it's dopamine or not, I don't want to just sit around all day doing the same thing over and over. I go to work, come home, work out for a little bit, my wife makes me watch House, I eat supper, take a shower, go to bed, then do it again the next day.

Sometimes, for me, thrill seeking just plain gets me out of a rut. I'll get together with a couple of the guys in my band and we'll prank call McDonald's and other places just to do something. And then, I'm in a band on top of that, so I guess the rush of being onstage is comparable to the rush you get when you do something risky or dangerous. Getting on stage isn't risky or dangerous (most of the time, depending on where you play, lol), but there's a definite rush there.

I'm sure if it were analyzed by a scientist somewhere, they would tell me that I'm addicted to dopamine as well, even though I'm not doing any risk taking...but it is thrill seeking, so it almost comes under the same heading.

Tournements are more about proving something to myself than the rush I get...the rush is just icing on the cake for me...but I haven't really been to a tournement like that in a long, long time, either.

So I guess trying to be a rockstar will have to do for now.
 
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