Webmd - what do we want? rewards! when do we want 'em? now!

WebMD - What Do We Want? Rewards! When Do We Want 'Em? Now! WebMD Today
What Do We Want? Rewards! When Do We Want 'Em? Now! Instant Gratification, Addictive Behaviors May Lie in Specific Brain Area Medical Info
May 25, 2001 -- Good things may come to those who wait, but people who act impulsively simply can't wait for their rewards, and settle for whatever they can get NOW. A new study suggests that impulsive behavior -- a feature of addictions, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and some personality disorders, may be caused by a brain defect.
In the study, reported in the May 25 issue of the journal Science, rats trainedto understand that they can have one sugar pellet now or four later soon catch Health and Wellness
on to the idea that waiting can bring sweet rewards.
But when the same rats have damage to an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, they appear to lose their ability to make wise choices and alwaysgo for the quick and easy fix, something like look-before-you-leap behavior, report Rudolf Cardinal, PhD, and colleagues in the department of experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge, England.
A naturally-occurring substance called dopamine may help explain thisphenomenon. Dopamine is one of the chemicals that allow communicationbetween nerves in the brain. It is also known to be involved in the sensation of WebMD Member
reward we experience from something we enjoy. Cardinal tells WebMD it's Services
been known for a long time that natural rewards, like food and sex, as well as artificial ones, like nicotine and cocaine, act on dopamine to activate the The conclusion that the nucleus accumbens is at the center of our rewardsystem is bolstered by a second study published in the May issue of thejournal Neuron. In it, researchers report that the regions of the brain -- My Healthcare
including the nucleus accumbens -- that become activated in the anticipation and experience of winning at gambling, in a sense another type of addictive, impulsive behavior, are the same regions that appear to respond in cocaine Hans Breiter, PhD, co-director of the Motivation and Emotion NeuroscienceCenter in the department of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and About WebMD
colleagues used a high-power, real-time brain imager to look at brain activity in 12 men taking part in a computer-controlled game of chance.
The subjects were given a $50 stake and were told that they could lose some or all of it, keep it, or increase it. The volunteers were first shown how much they could win by watching where the spinner landed on a wheel-of-fortune; this part of the test was called the expectancy phase. In the second or "outcome" phase, participants found whether they had actually lost or won.
http://my.webmd.com/content/article/1728.80451 (1 of 2) [26/05/2001 01:36:21] WebMD - What Do We Want? Rewards! When Do We Want 'Em? Now! The researchers found that as the prospect of winning more money increased,so did activity in the parts of the brain previously seen to respond to othertypes of rewards, such as drugs. The level of activity in the nucleusaccumbens and two other nearby regions grew as the potential jackpotincreased in the expectancy phase, and similar changes were seen during theoutcome phase.
A researcher who has studied the genetics of addictive behaviors tellsWebMD that certain people have genetic abnormalities in their rewardsystems. The nucleus accumbens, he says, sits at the center of the rewardsystem when it's stimulated by gambling. Defects in this system, "can lead notonly to potential problems with addictive behaviors but with impulsivity ingeneral," like that which occurs in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,says David Comings, MD, director of medical genetics at City of HopeMedical Center in Duarte, Calif.
Comings points out that the drug Zyban, which is sometimes prescribed tohelp people quit smoking, is an antidepressant that acts on dopamine in thebrain, and that Ritalin, widely prescribed for children with ADHD, also actsto normalize dopamine levels. These observations are suggestive of anunderlying defect common to addiction, ADHD and other forms of impulsive Medically Reviewed 2001 WebMD Corporation. All rights reserved.
1996-2001 WebMD Corporation. All rights reserved.
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Source: http://egret.psychol.cam.ac.uk/publications/2001/Science_paper_press_coverage/WebMD_story.pdf

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