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Electrical-Smile-636 t1_ith8dv4 wrote

Nice to see my research (first author) get this attention! It is quite misrepresented though, as we did not measure dopamine levels directly :)


Stepjamm t1_ithg396 wrote

Misrepresented journalism? Sounds like you’ve finally made it to the big leagues haha


thehazer t1_iti02mb wrote

HA, I do love seeing an author call it out though. No matter how minor, I think this stuff hurts public perception of science.


DoofDilla t1_ithielr wrote

While reading this, i asked myself, should students and teachers try to change the environment their are learning in as often as possible then? Would it make a difference if you study in the same room for a few weeks or study a few weeks in a new room everyday?


Electrical-Smile-636 t1_ithxzd3 wrote

Yes, this is also what I have suggested in earlier papers and grant applications! One should also consider context-dependent retrieval effects, which suggest that it is easier to retrieve information when you are in the same place when learning that information. So for elementary school children this effect may be stronger than the potential effect of novelty, but for university students (who almost never do an exam at the same location as where they were learning) novelty may be potentially beneficial. Some other labs also have shown that elementary school children can benefit from exposure to other types of novelty (e.g., a novel science lesson)


someguyfromtheuk t1_itkj5cu wrote

Does this also apply to virtual novel environments like video games/books/movies?

Like if a film is set on an alien planet instead of your home country are you more likely to remember the details of it because the environment is novel?


Electrical-Smile-636 t1_itkozuo wrote

We also use virtual environments, so with regard to that example, I'd say yes. In a study from 2021, however, we found that the benefits only occurred when individuals were actively exploring (similar as in a 3D game) and not just watching exploration behavior from someone else (which would be more similar to watching a movie). My hunch is that making active navigational choices may be a prerequisite (as this probably relies on the hippocampus). We need to investigate this more thoroughly (i.e., using neuroscientific methods) though! I'd be interested to see if imagined environments, as may occur when reading a book, could have an effect. Good idea for a follow-up maybe :)


Volcic-tentacles t1_itfssh9 wrote

"boost dopamine levels" is a nonsense phrase.
"Projected to the hippocampus" is also nonsense.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It is manufactured and stored in small vesicles at the extremities of neurons and is released into synapses: whereupon it is reabsorbed or destroyed within milliseconds. Neurotransmitters are not like other hormones such as adrenaline or thyroxine that are released into the blood supply. There is little or no dopamine sloshing around in your brain. There are only dopaminergic neurons, i.e. neurons that use dopamine to transmit signals across a synapse. And yes, rewards are mediated by dopaminergic neurons, but so are dozens of other processes.

How we increase levels of a neurotransmitter in a synapse, and what the actual effects of that are is very poorly understood. How we measure the amount of dopamine in a synapse is not clear since they are just 20-40 nanometers wide: one could not use visible light to see one and do spectroscopy for example. Blue light wavelengths are an order of magnitude longer than a synapse, i.e. 450 and 495 nanometers.

So there are a chain of inferences in the story as presented that don't seem valid to me.


ryarger t1_itfvkby wrote

OP’s title is not the actual article’s headline. The article and actual article headline do not have the issues you’ve pointed out.


[deleted] t1_itgk80p wrote



CueCappa t1_ithy777 wrote

I'm glad he made the comment correcting the post's title because I'm sure there are a lot of people that only read the title and comments for a tl;dr.

Not me though, I totally read the whole thing. Yup, definitely.


Viikoreaux t1_ith4hi1 wrote

I was just thinking this title makes zero sense


Electrical-Smile-636 t1_ithjeoe wrote

As the first author of the paper I would like to straighten out that we did not manipulate or measure dopamine in this study (we conducted it in a Science Museum in Amsterdam, so we used purely behavioral measures). Also note that the notion of hippocampal dopamine underlying the effects of novelty comes from a robust literature in animals (mostly studies that do use pharmacological manipulations and neuroscientific measures). The formulation of "dopamine projecting to the hippocampus" dates back to an influential theory by Lisman & Grace 2005, which is why this wording is still prevalent in the literature.


Minute-Object t1_itgfmlh wrote

If one uses a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, does that not increase the total amount of dopamine in the neurons and synapses?


PM-ME-DEM-NUDES-GIRL t1_itisr0f wrote

yes, it does increase the amount of extracellular dopamine and the amount of dopamine neurotransmission (how much dopamine is reaching receptors) but it may not cause a persistent increase in the total amount of dopamine as there are homeostatic mechanisms that decrease dopamine synthesis when extracellular dopamine is elevated and vice versa.


alalaladede t1_itfr1nh wrote

The secret drug behind geocaching. I can feel it every time I go cache hunting.


T732 t1_itiq5vh wrote

I tried this and never got into it. I would much rather walk through a Forrest than go looking for a box in X area. But I think that “drug” is essentially the same.


PM-ME-DEM-NUDES-GIRL t1_itklc6q wrote

the elevated dopamine in the hippocampus is just responsible for better memory in novel environments, the elevation in mood is ostensibly due to connectivity between the striatum and hippocampus which is a bit different mechanism


cheezburglar t1_ithgtk2 wrote

One of the aspects I enjoy most in games is exploration. I assume it works for virtual environments too.


rachid116460 t1_itg9m3j wrote

Anecdotal but anytime i travel its like my brain gains superpowers. In my home city and state i have the WORST sense of direction when i am in europe i am a god damn GPS. I always thought it was because i felt less “safe” due to the new region but this also makes a lot of sense!


LandscapeSweet1531 t1_ith9cr0 wrote

Ah. So playing No Man’s Sky for hours every day has been helping my memory. No wonder I’m a genius


poquito_kale t1_itfs927 wrote

That's because by the time you get old you've already seen everything under the sun and 'been there, done that'. Or at least have been exposed to something roughly equivalent, so the perceived novelty is lessened.


xeneks t1_itghkum wrote

I think old farts don’t get down on hands and knees to sniff the ground and study things up closely, nor do they engage in nonsense and frolic. Try getting an old fart to jump off a ledge into a pool or sot around doing sfa for an hour while slapping mozzies or swishing flies away. Also getting cold and wet or sunburned, also terrifying. They rarely get around barefoot. Also did you see what they eat? Besides when you’re an old fart you often need to be near a toilet. And bringing new friends or letting randoms sleep over before you go out together somewhere, is that a grandpa or grandma thing? What ability going without food or worse, going with food you can’t chew or you don’t like.

The older generation sure make it difficult for themselves to enjoy going out!



MiseALepreuve t1_itgsxp5 wrote

You really seem to be judgmental of people feeling the effects of aging and taking appropriate precautions.

Are you okay?


DinnerForBreakfast t1_ith358v wrote

Lots of old folks enjoy swimming around here. They do the senior water aerobics class in the early morning then splash around and socialize a bit and seem to be having plenty of fun. Not much jumping and squatting, sure, but that's because their arthritic knees get shards of glass pain when they kneel.

I used to buy snack food from an Asian grocery to take to an elderly coffee club so they could try something new and they had a blast. It was always cool to see what they'd already been exposed to because for them it always meant some adventure in their youth or some interesting globetrotting character they met in the 60s or something.


xeneks t1_ititwy8 wrote

That’s genius! My family tends to be less keen on regular swimming. Our sunlight is powerful at our latitude, a light based maceration of skin, more-so if you don’t eat or are unprotected and it’s later in the day. I love your idea of feeding people. It’s one of the advantages of industrial food that is sterile and processed and sealed in polluting packaging, you have less ‘food poisoning’ risks or ‘this might make me ill’ concerns from the people you offer it to. Freshly prepared food is so often rejected as suspiciously risky. You setup a smorgasbord of fresh foods that are home cooked, rarely do people accept the food from strangers if the preparation isn’t transparent. There’s a vast gulf of mistrust. I wonder how to overcome that when not using industrial processed foods but instead fresh foods that are powerhouses of nutrition and also still living?

Ahh. Got it. Some ideas for you. Do with them as you will.

Bifold approach, maybe trifold.


  1. You prep fresh food. Something with living cells. Plants, no meats. Processed only just enough to make it tasty and easy to chew or swallow at speed.

  2. Have someone (A companion) eat it, happily slowly snacking to show it’s there for eating and will be eaten :)

  3. Offer it. Also offer the recipe. Have a label recipe card template you keep. As in, a summary recipe that you handwrite out onto thinner papers that can be folded to a pocket if someone wants the recipe. Maybe a5. You use a special pen and paper so you’re not contributing to paper waste.

  4. You package it on the spot. Packaging is ‘zero carbon, pre-offset’. As in, it’s carbon offset already. Labelling as such. Big words so it’s an educational packaging material itself. Logo and text indicates ‘aid us by avoiding landfill to reduce consuming the offset’. This way the packaging is a zero waste stress. Other words might say ‘food is the greatest carbon cost. Make your life more than only consumption. Seek guidance on ecology and sustainability’ or something similar.

  5. The packaging is engineered to avoid people getting embarrassed if they make a mess when eating. Eating without being a filthy slobbering crumb dropping messy animal isn’t easy when you’re worn down and struggling, or your teeth are a kissing crime. But avoiding the perception of being a filthy slobbering crumb dropping animal is even harder, because people fear judgement or mocking or laughing even when it’s less than likely. No one wants to eat and be criticised making a mess. So they sometimes avoid eating. The cleaner the environment the more likely this occurs unless they are brutally uncaring of others thoughts! Erm, so yes. Packaging has to make it easier to eat and reduce mess. I’m a fan of burgers and modern plant burgers are unbelievable in potential and taste better than ground dead animals. The old corner burger shop, non-chain store, has an art sometimes in wrapping a burger in paper, so it not only doesn’t dribble beetroot juice in your lap, but also doesn’t fall apart. It’s sad they don’t often use plant based meat-like materials in those burgers as they are a worship, worth the price for excellence in wrap alone.

  6. You package the food so eating is graceful even for the easily embarrassed, but you then have to address the cleanup. Mouth and teeth. Also breath. People reject eating when they are ashamed of dirty teeth. They also stop smiling as they don’t want to have food residue and are over-programmed by all the idiotic media that’s sickly perfect in image and appearance. Some don’t care but most people who are weaker in spirit and self confidence and assurance reject smiling when their teeth may have food on them. And it’s not fun being accused of bad breath so you then avoid getting physically close enough or talking directly to people to avoid them shying away from what is a rapidly disintegrating breath. What helps here is gargling and swishing.

  7. Toilets. Eating leads to urinating and defecation. Many people are afraid of going to the toilet as they inevitably smell like one when they return. They loose the ability to hold it in, gas or even what is sometimes called a ‘number 2’. The number 1, how often do old people stink of pee? They spend a lot of time in their life telling others to be clean and smell good, so when they might dribble some urine or smell like an unflushed loo, they avoid eating or drinking as they don’t want to themselves be ‘the one who smells bad or looks like they pissed themselves’. So easy attitudes and a practical approach that is humorous and tolerant is valuable. That actually reminds me, I rarely see slogans on shorts. I should get a pair of shorts that says ‘this is where I usually piss myself’ pointing to the crotch area. I’m nearing 50 myself and often shake and don’t wipe, paper is precious, as it’s from trees, and we likely don’t have enough of those to sustain our soils or maintain water cycles.

Edit: so what helps here are small portions.

Simple pre-packaged foods that have additives and are fortified go a long way towards addressing all the above issues. So I think that’s a great way to keep the old farts kicking and hopefully pulling their weight. :)

Edit: I nearly forgot to fully articulate in textual way, the third component after nutrition/education. It’s the direction. Old people forget the daily activity needs to be purposeful. The most amazing people often slump inside until they become careless and dismissive of environmental efforts and dismissive of people in general. This slumping is from their inability to directly effect change. When the world is physically suffering, with soil depletion, water scarcity and pollution, and air nearly everywhere becomes sickening over a lifetime when breathing it without a filter, the only thing that addresses the issue is a sound direction.


The direction should be toward effort not entertainment. Old people have a really great advantage here. They can slow the rushed, and apply consistence, and create respect for their generation. Anyone rational who would see the way a retired person declines while consuming the planet and resources desperately and urgently needing an adjustment to equitable sharing, would be incensed and full of spite and anger and dismay. When an older person directly and with a glint is able to put the goal of ‘now to consume until I die’ behind, and steadfastly with a care for all, push past age ideals and support themselves and others even when people might write them off as worthless, they bridge the difficulties of respect that comes from differences in assets and power.


ubermeisters t1_ithim3z wrote

I know we're not supposed to leave anecdotal comments, but anecdotally, I can absolutely agree with these results. I absolutely love exploring a new environment more than pretty much anything else. it's so fascinating and it feels so rewarding to get to know the Earth.


MightyWhiteSoddomite t1_ithwhec wrote

You never realize how much getting old sucks until you start getting old.


NeoPhaneron t1_itjf0cu wrote

I wonder if exploring digital environments could have the same effect?


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PhoenixRising256 t1_itiwft6 wrote

Just moved to a new state to start a doctorate and have been having trouble studying even though I enjoy the school and program much more than I expected. Seeing this was actually validating


3xplain t1_itjkm86 wrote

VR used in this study? Where is the publication link what school or .org? .net?