Dopamine and Desire

Dopamine plays a huge role in forming our desires, and (in this context) can be described as a hormone that forces us to seek pleasure. In addition to this, it also plays a critical role in many important aspects of our bodies like movement, memory, cognition etc.

It's often thought of as a feel-good chemical of the brain, but it's important to note that dopamine is not spiking up when we "get the reward", but actually prior to that, in the anticipation of the reward. More specifically, it's the thing that pushes us to do stuff we expect to be rewarded for.

When we smell tasty, high-calorie food, our brain starts releasing dopamine and we get the urge to eat it. We go to the shop where the smell is coming from and order our food, while our dopamine levels keep increasing. Our order is ready, and we are about to take the first bite. We are hungry and drooling, and our dopamine is on its peak. We have now had our first bite and the dopamine starts dropping as it has successfully performed our job of "forcing us to do its bidding". (Of course, the relationship between wanting and liking is complex and multifaceted, and different brain regions and neurotransmitters are involved in each aspect of reward processing - this is just to show a general idea)

Dopamine promotes reward-seeking behaviors and in the modern environment often creates behavioral loops which force people to constantly seek pleasure from various sources like social feed scrolling or taking drugs.

The feeling of wanting the reward caused by dopamine can frequently be stronger than the reward we get after fulfilling our desire, as more of the brain is devoted to feeling the "want" feeling than the "like" feeling.

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