The Pleasure of Learning New Thins: Searching for new associations


Translation (and minor modifications) of selected texts from page 21 of the book

"La Chimie de nos émotions" de Sébastian Bohler [SB] (Photos of Véronique Durruty) published by Aubanel (2007)


We like new things because novelty activates specific brain areas termed associative areas that are filled with molecules that are termed “endogenous opioids” as they are similar to morphine or opium.


Solving riddles, Crosswords, Sudoku, enriching our knowledge, learning new languages.


Researchers from the University of New York have discovered why human beings are curious by nature. When we discover something new, some areas of our brain produce molecules that are called endogenous opioids that provide a sense of well-being.


When we discover for example a nice landscape, the areas of the brain that process the visual information are activated and this information is transferred in a long chain of a neurons that goes from simpler to more complicated. The first neurons process forms and colors, then others process the texture of the surfaces, the faces and the objects; the neurons that are found at the end of this chain associate what they see to other information stored in past circumstances. They are part of what we call the visual associative areas.


The neurobiologists have showed that the more we go further in this chain of information processing, the more the neurons contain “opioid receptors”, which are molecules that are sensitive to the substances termed opioids, such as opium or morphine. In other words, the more the information is propagated in this chain, the more we sense pleasure. It is therefore to our best interest to make the information move as far as possible; this is only possible if it contains numerous elements that we can associate (in the associative areas) with other representations that we have stored (in memory).





Motivation, Risk-seeking/aversion


Safe or risky bet?Upon loss,"riskers" D2-neurons not too activated.If opto-activated no longer "riskers". #Economics


Nature News&Comment @NatureNews

Risk-seeking rats can be made more cautious by activating D2-expressing neurons  (£)
12:42 PM - 29 Mar 2016




Motivation, Reward, Curiosity (& link to Boredom)

Uncertainty-Seeking, Seeking despite Uncertainty


If something is uncertain, would you say "let's try this" or instead "never mind", "not worth it" ?

Do you take chances or risks? 


Will you take the chance to go get a free sweet at the cake shop if you are not sure that they will have any?


La curiosité n'est pas un « vilain » défaut chez les souris…




Nicotinic receptors in the ventral tegmental area promote uncertainty-seeking.

Naudé J, Tolu S, Dongelmans M, Torquet N, Valverde S, Rodriguez G, Pons S, Maskos U, Mourot A, Marti F, Faure P.

Nat Neurosci. 2016 Jan 18. doi: 10.1038/nn.4223. [Epub ahead of print]



Short simplified description of the approach


Consider a triangle where you place a sweet on each vertice. Put a mouse near the area.


Condition 1: As soon as a sweet is removed it is replaced.  There is a 100% chance that a new sweet will be there.

Question: Will a mouse move from vertice to vertice to get the sweet?

Result: Yes, a normal mouse will do that.


Condition 2: The removed sweet is replaced in 50% of the cases. There is a 50% chance that a new  sweet will be there.

Question: Will a mouse move from vertice to vertice to get the sweet? Knowing that it may not be there?

Result: A (normal) mouse will take the chance to find out.

An nAchR B2 VTA mutant will not.







Mental States | Boredom and its correlation with many mental states


"We are establishing boredom as a testable construct"


via @NatureNews 


"Why boredom is anything but boring"


"Implicated in everything from traumatic brain injury to learning ability, boredom has


become extremely interesting to scientists."



"After his head trauma, he “complained bitterly that he was just — bored. “There was no hint of apathy about it at all,” says Danckert. “It was deeply frustrating and unsatisfying for him to be deeply bored by things he used to love.” “


"researchers such as Eastwood are intent on finding better ways to understand what boredom is and why it is correlated to so many other mental states."


"We are establishing boredom as a testable construct"


"Even when it is not very pleasant, apparently, novelty is better than monotony."




Article by @NatureNews brought to the general public by @sciam #BehavioralStates #Boredom…


Boredom has become extremely interesting to scientists via @sciammind