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May 05, 2015

Science: Neurochemical Reward From Mastering a Skill or Learning Something New Is Similar to the Release From Taking Opium

And, I think, therefore vice-versa.

So when you learn things, you feel good, and get a chemical rush.

But, on the other hand, if you smoke opium, you get a similar chemical rush, which would, then, displace any natural dataphile urgency you might have.

Kind of interesting, I think: It kind of tells us what we already might have suspected, but couldn't quite say.

Kids doing bad in school? Must be drugs, parents often conclude.

Well, maybe, yeah:

Scientists have long researched the science behind the natural high that comes with mastering a skill, understanding a difficult concept, or solving a challenging problem. Now, neuroscientists have discovered that the “click” of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances.

"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."

Apart from porn, I have another addiction: getting lost for hours reading Wikipedia entries. I have thought before it felt like a drug; it was a silly thing, but I had this idea that if I could just Know Everything, well, then that would be awesome.

Maybe it's chemical.

Something else I suspected: You learn better when you take notes by hand, and learn less well when you type into a computer.

And this is something I've been thinking is probably true: If you have something important to your life you want to do, do it first thing in the morning.

Two reasons: 1, you are more creative and fresh in the morning; 2, in the morning, you have not yet been overcome by the demands of the day, which will cause you to not do that very important thing, should you wait to do it.

The article makes a good point: If something's important, you'll only skip it if you have a really good reason for doing so. But guess what? The longer you wait, the more the odds climb that your day will deliver that Really Good Reason not to do it.

Damn, I seriously have to start getting up before 10.

Apologies for these lame posts -- I've been trying to defend my last post against various critics on Twitter. I'll get up something better in a few minutes.


Bonus: Learning Is Racist: Via @lisadep, Rush Limbaugh found someone arguing that reading to your children at night gives them an "unfair advantage," which, I guess, you should stop doing, because Harrison Bergeron wasn't a warning, it was an instruction manual.

The Daily Telegraph frets:

"Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?" asks a story on the ABC’s [Australian Broadcasting Company's] website.

"Should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?"

The story was followed by a broadcast on the ABC's Radio National that also tackled the apparently divisive issue of bedtime reading.

"Evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don't -- the difference in their life chances --is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,” British academic Adam Swift told ABC presenter Joe Gelonesi.

So humanity is doomed, but you knew that.

Good riddance to bad rubbish I say.


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posted by Ace at 04:12 PM

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