Business Standard

Here's the science behind giving up


A new study on the science behind giving up could lead to helping people find motivation when they are depressed and conversely decrease motivation for drugs.
Inside the brain, a group of cells known as nociceptin neurons gets very active before a mouse's breakpoint. They emit nociceptin, a complex molecule that suppresses dopamine, a chemical largely associated with motivation.
The nociceptin neurons are located near an area of the brain known as the ventral tegmental area (VTA). The VTA contains neurons that release dopamine during pleasurable activities.
Although scientists have previously studied the effects of fast, simple neurotransmitters on dopamine neurons, this study is among the first to describe the effects of this complex nociception modulatory system.
"We are taking an entirely new angle on an area of the brain known as VTA. The big discovery is that large complex neurotransmitters known as neuropeptides have a very robust effect on animal behavior by acting on the VTA," said co-lead author Christian Pedersen.
The researchers said this discovery could lead to helping people find motivation when they are depressed and conversely decrease motivation for drugs in substance- abuse disorders, like an addiction.
The discovery came by looking at the neurons in mice seeking sucrose. The mice had to poke their snout into a port to get sucrose. At first, it was easy, then it became two pokes, then five, increasing exponentially, and so on. Eventually, all the mice gave up. Neural activity recordings revealed that these "demotivation" or "frustration" neurons became most active when mice stopped seeking sucrose.
In mammals, the neural circuits that underlie reward-seeking are regulated by mechanisms to keep homeostasis the tendency to maintain internal stability to compensate for environmental changes.
In the wild, animals are less motivated to seek rewards in environments where resources are scarce. Persistence in seeking uncertain rewards can be disadvantageous due to risk exposure to predators or from energy expenditure, the researchers noted.
Deficits within these regulatory processes in humans can manifest as behavioral dysfunctions, including depression, addiction, and eating disorders.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Jul 28 2019 | 10:01 PM IST

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