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'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
09-22-2006, 02:25 AM,
#1
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
All "drugs" are just brain synapses firing... everything else you think on top is blatent media conditioning.


Code:
Source: University of Southern California
Date: 20 June 2006

'Thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving

Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure
of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix

The "click" of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California. He presents his theory in an invited article in the latest issue of American Scientist.

"While you're trying to understand a difficult theorem, it's not fun," said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

"But once you get it, you just feel fabulous."

The brain's craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.

"I think we're exquisitely tuned to this as if we're junkies, second by second."

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence.

Only more pressing material needs, such as hunger, can suspend the quest for knowledge, he added.

The same mechanism is involved in the aesthetic experience, Biederman said, providing a neurological explanation for the pleasure we derive from art.

"This account may provide a plausible and very simple mechanism for aesthetic and perceptual and cognitive curiosity."

Biederman's theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing.

The receptors are tightly packed in the areas of the pathway linked to comprehension and interpretation of images, but sparse in areas where visual stimuli first hit the cortex.

Biederman's theory holds that the greater the neural activity in the areas rich in opioid receptors, the greater the pleasure.

In a series of functional magnetic resonance imaging trials with human volunteers exposed to a wide variety of images, Biederman's research group found that strongly preferred images prompted the greatest fMRI activity in more complex areas of the ventral visual pathway. (The data from the studies are being submitted for publication.)

Biederman also found that repeated viewing of an attractive image lessened both the rating of pleasure and the activity in the opioid-rich areas. In his article, he explains this familiar experience with a neural-network model termed "competitive learning."

In competitive learning (also known as "Neural Darwinism"), the first presentation of an image activates many neurons, some strongly and a greater number only weakly.

With repetition of the image, the connections to the strongly activated neurons grow in strength. But the strongly activated neurons inhibit their weakly activated neighbors, causing a net reduction in activity. This reduction in activity, Biederman's research shows, parallels the decline in the pleasure felt during repeated viewing.

"One advantage of competitive learning is that the inhibited neurons are now free to code for other stimulus patterns," Biederman writes.

This preference for novel concepts also has evolutionary value, he added.

"The system is essentially designed to maximize the rate at which you acquire new but interpretable [understandable] information. Once you have acquired the information, you best spend your time learning something else.

"There's this incredible selectivity that we show in real time. Without thinking about it, we pick out experiences that are richly interpretable but novel."

The theory, while currently tested only in the visual system, likely applies to other senses, Biederman said.

* * *

Code:
   Edward Vessel, who was Biederman's graduate student at USC, is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University.
                    Vessel collaborated on the studies and co-authored the American Scientist article.

Taken from http://opioids.com


[those code tags are nice]
"We are just glorified monkeys in suits.... show me where it's written we should be able to model the cosmos?!" -Terence McKenna, 21st Century Bard
R.I.P-ranks Terence. I miss your take on life.
=-=
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09-22-2006, 11:19 AM,
#2
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
interesting
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10-01-2006, 12:25 AM,
#3
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
When I was in the transition of going from physics to neuroscience I dabbled in theorizing about related ideas. I hadn't made the link with opiate neural pathways though. Here's what I had to say back then (from the memetics forum of which I was quite an enthousiastically active member):

http://cfpm.org/~majordom/memetics/2000/6056.html
General Brainquirks:http://1phil4everyill.wordpress.com

Mind control imbued by movies:http://predictiveprogramminginmovies.blogspot.com

Movers and Shakers of the SMOM:http://moversandshakersofthesmom.blogspot...identity.html
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10-01-2006, 01:42 AM,
#4
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
If any one feels the need to know some more about this
here is the man himself homepage http://geon.usc.edu/~biederman/

Neuroscience page can be found here http://www.usc.edu/programs/neuroscience/
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10-06-2006, 06:25 PM,
#5
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
Quote:When I was in the transition of going from physics to neuroscience I dabbled in theorizing about related ideas. I hadn't made the link with opiate neural pathways though. Here's what I had to say back then (from the memetics forum of which I was quite an enthousiastically active member):

http://cfpm.org/~majordom/memetics/2000/6056.html


Really good post E-Phil. Do you now do neurosciences?? Good area to be in I reckon.

PS: I met Susan Blackmore at a conference. First professor I've met with a psychedelic hair cut. :o
"We are just glorified monkeys in suits.... show me where it's written we should be able to model the cosmos?!" -Terence McKenna, 21st Century Bard
R.I.P-ranks Terence. I miss your take on life.
=-=
Reply
10-06-2006, 07:52 PM,
#6
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
OK so lets see if i understood this: Biederman ,a clear evolutionist, is saying that the opioids in our brain have an evolutionary purpose to "reward" us when we grasp a new idea - an evolutionary way to make sure we keep learning and develping our brains? Ill look in to this further!

That explains the pleasure chemicals produced by our brain but what about the hallucinogenic ones? (DMT)
&Many people would sooner die than think; in fact they do so!& - Bertrand Russell
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10-07-2006, 05:47 PM,
#7
'thirst For Knowledge' May Be Opium Craving
Quote:OK so lets see if i understood this: Biederman ,a clear evolutionist, is saying that the opioids in our brain have an evolutionary purpose to "reward" us when we grasp a new idea - an evolutionary way to make sure we keep learning and develping our brains? Ill look in to this further!

But it's complete academic crap as far as being anything revolutionary. They are all late on the ball as usual - we know that basic human activity is DOPAmine related...


Quote:That explains the pleasure chemicals produced by our brain but what about the hallucinogenic ones? (DMT)

But we are talking basic - [like basic basic] drives here. it's nothng to do with DMT etc although i get what you are saying. The last thing I'd want when I got 'rewarded' for puzzling together a bit of into is a big flood of DMT... never get anything done. Be too busy baseball-batting the hyperdimensional machine elves.
"We are just glorified monkeys in suits.... show me where it's written we should be able to model the cosmos?!" -Terence McKenna, 21st Century Bard
R.I.P-ranks Terence. I miss your take on life.
=-=
Reply


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