Dopamina, la forma de entender a los niños y su atracción por las tecnologías.

Dopamine, the way of understanding children and their attraction to technologies.

We recently talked to you on social networks about dopamine.

It is a neurotransmitter with multiple functions in our brain. The best known is the one related to pleasure.

With likes, video games, quick rewards... dopamine levels skyrocket in a very short time. That pleasure we feel makes us want to feel it again, entering a circle of DESIRE-ACTION-REWARD that encourages you to want more.

Dopamine in large quantities, that pleasure it makes us feel, is difficult to replace. Playing with a ball, chatting, playing board games... makes you secrete dopamine, but not in the quantities that video games do, for example. Therefore, not wanting to play other things has a scientific explanation. And also that they react with frustration, reluctance and a long etc.

In this post we have compiled information from different sources so that families can better understand what happens in our brains and in those of the little ones. Information is power and will give us the option to better understand some behaviors and help us make decisions.

Harald Sitte, from MedUni Vienna's Institute of Pharmacology, says that…

«The release of dopamine can cause people to become addicts since they are always looking for pleasure and reaching higher and higher levels»

Why are we so attracted to technologies?

An experiment on rats, carried out by Peter Miler and James Olds, from McGill University, Canada, in 1953 has many of the answers to what happens to us today with technologies.

They began the study by implanting electrodes in the rats' brains to study a structure called the midbrain reticular system .

But, by mistake, the researchers deployed the electrodes elsewhere.

The experiment involved placing the rat in a box with corners labeled A, B, C, and D. Each time it approached corner A, the rat received a shock. They noticed that he began to show a lot of interest in corner A. They repeated it with corner B and the same thing happened.

Olds and Milner decided to insert a lever inside the box so that the rat could decide when to receive the shock and be able to stimulate itself.

Extract from an article by Xataca:

“What happened may be the most impressive experiment in the history of behavioral neuroscience: the rats pressed the lever up to seven thousand times per hour to stimulate their brains, as David J. Linden explains in The Compass of the pleasure:

But what they stimulated was not a “curiosity center,” but a reward center, a pleasure circuit whose activation was much more powerful than any natural stimulus. Several subsequent experiments revealed that the rats preferred stimulation of the pleasure circuit to food (even if they were hungry) or water (even if they were thirsty). The self-stimulating male rats ignored a female in heat and, to reach the lever, crossed and re-crossed an electrified grid that shocked their feet. The female rats abandoned their newborn litter to continue pressing the lever. Some rats self-stimulated up to two thousand times per hour for twenty-four hours to the exclusion of any other activity. To prevent them from dying of starvation, they had to be disconnected from the device.

 Olds and Milner reached a revolutionary conclusion for the time: that behavior was driven as much by pleasure as by pain .

What would a human being feel if they were subjected to this kind of experiment? Do humans function the same?

The answer is yes. Robert Galbraith Heath conducted an unethical experiment between 1949 and 1980. He was founder and director of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Galbraith conducted his research with the goal of using brain stimulation to alleviate symptoms of disorders such as major depression and schizophrenia.

The experiment concluded that humans react the same as rats. Pressing the button compulsively. And other similar experiments carried out by other researchers on women gave results of compulsive reward addiction.

Dopamine provides an increase in motivation and energy, which is not a problem in itself, since it is designed to reward basic activities in life: eating, drinking coffee... but when we expose our brain to compulsive behaviors that continually stimulate the reward system we can lose control.

Álvaro Bilbao, doctor in psychology and neuropsychologist, talks to us in one of his books “The child's brain explained to parents” of the importance of children before the age of 6 not being entertained by screens. In one of his chapters he talks about a region in the emotional brain, called the striatum, which has a lot of relevance in tastes and desires.

It is directly linked to attention and identifies which games are best based on:

  1. The speed at which satisfaction arrives.
  2. And the intensity of the stimulus.

The more strikingly rewarding or novel it is, the more in love you will be with the activity. This part of the brain can be “filled” with very few objects of desire.

So once you fall prey to apps and video games, you can lose interest in everything else.

There are many cases of children diagnosed with ADD (attention deficit disorder) who have really lost interest in other things. In the book “Reset your child's brain” several real cases are presented in which children who were being medicated, but did not improve, a screen detox led them to improve radically.

As families, the more information we have, the better decisions we will make.

Let's not let technologies control our lives. And let's live intelligently all the opportunities it offers us.

Just as we educate in other aspects of their lives: food, culture, travel, exposure to technologies and how to use them has to be on our list of priorities since they are going to live in a world full of them. And in addition to having wonderful things, it has others, which are not so wonderful.

As we get older, we must learn to differentiate between the technology that wastes our time and that which helps us improve, such as technological skills: learning to send an email, create a folder, make a photo album, learn to draw. …

And our obligation as mothers and fathers is to educate them in the responsible use of technologies.

References to write this post:
* David J. Linden. The compass of pleasure.
*Xataca video-game-console-i videogame-console-and-ii
* The child's brain explained to Álvaro Bilbao's parents.
* Reboot your child's brain by Victoria Dunckley.
*Get out of the machine:
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