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Science

Pilot of My Soul 18

Posted by timothy
from the like-to-settle-down-with-a-nice-dopamine dept.
nickynicky9doors writes "The International Herald Tribune has an article on one of the recent advances in neuroscience. The article harkens back to Freud and suggests many of our actions are unconscious. Brain circuits involved in reward assesment process dopamine as a chemical signal. It is thought human dopamine-based reward assesment includes sending dopamine signals to the frontal cortex. Beginning in our earliest years the system informs our expectations and our reactions."
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Pilot of My Soul

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  • by freakpower (451849) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @01:59AM (#3069103)
    It has long been known that the brain reacts to out-of-the-ordinary or meaningful stimuli more than others, and this is further support for that.[If you're really adventurous, check out material on the P300 event-related potential.] However, their claims about it's responsibility are a bit overzealous.

    While it was obvious that rats and monkeys really liked having their reward centers stimulated, it's been unclear whether the dopamine reward system is sufficient for learning or is just one method by which it occurs.

    Correlation between external reward and internal excitation does point to the possibility that dopamine does something important, but to make the leap and say that a specific tract is responsible for unconscious decision-making is like saying "well, the power cables connect to everything in my machine, so the power supply must be where all the processing is done."

    Yes, axons from the midbrain ennervate much of the cortex, but so do axons from most any other brain structure. This is the big problem with neurophysiology: just because an area of the brain looks to be a part of one structure [either by location or by transmitter type] doesn't mean it is.

    I do agree, however, that most everything that goes on up there [points to head] goes on outside the realm of consciousness. That comment, however, belongs to a debate far older than me.

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