Monday, May 24, 2010

Dopamine as the Gateway to Working Memory

Zachary Burt, in a blog post on the Neuroscience of Buddhism:

it explained how dopamine is a gateway to the regulation of working memory. When dopamine levels are steady, the “doorway” of working memory is closed; when they are low, the “doorway” opens, when there is a spike, the “doorway” opens. Why is this?

When you are feeling bad, (low dopamine), your attention is scattered so you can find things in the environment that will spike your mood: you are going to be more likely to be able to find food, sight potential mates, etc. When there is a spike in dopamine, you need to open your attention to be alert to the new threat/opportunity. Otherwise you can let the contents of your working memory remain constant so you can work on whatever problems are currently on your mind.

via @ycombinator

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