Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to motivation, goal-oriented behavior, euphoria, pleasure and attention. (although the feeling of pleasure can be attributed after reaching a goal to other neurotransmitters or it is not clear that it is exclusively dopamine).
We generate dopamine peaks as a function of the expectation of a reward, that is, proportional to the amplitude, the probability of occurrence and the spatiotemporal distance.
You’ve probably heard that video games generate dopamine and therefore can be addictive. And point. You don’t usually find more depth or rigor in the articles that deal with this topic. However, today he will be able to shape it.
The relationship between dopamine and video games
The first study by Koepp and colleagues in 1998 is far from measuring, for the first time, an increase in the secretion of dopamine during video games in general.
With that in mind, dopamine-generating video games have always been a good idea, but for years they have served as a horizon for our understanding. Go further.
What counts for more dopaminergic capacity is that it flows, not that we have “a lot” of dopamine in our brains.
On the other hand, for dopamine to flow, we need pre- and postsynaptic receptors; when a receptor absorbs dopamine, it goes into regeneration. The regeneration of a single dopamine receptor in the short term (less than a day to two days) is an enigma.
We have a neurochemical mechanism that can cause us to change the expression of our DNA to encode more dopamine receptors. and thus have more throughput capacity in this aspect; However, this is also limited and can “wear and tear” us.
Also, if we supersaturate our brain with dopamine, it becomes stagnant, which means that we will have fewer dopamine receptors than normal, and the few remaining and / or slowly regenerating receptors will reabsorb the dopamine. stagnant dopamine. . This will leave us a low-quality state of attention, motivation, and the ability to experience pleasure.
The implications of this for player health
We don’t know what short-term dopaminergic regeneration looks like, but we do know the sustained attention curves and symptoms of “dopaminergic imbalance”, so we can infer short-term when we have stable dopamine levels. .. or unbalanced.
On the one hand, the attention usually takes about 5 minutes to warm up, and from there it always goes down gradually, and depending on each situation, an effect of improving the quality of care can be seen when it is “near the end of a task.
On the other hand, these are symptoms of dopaminergic imbalance (We speak of imbalance because very high dopamine always results in low dopamine flow).
Among others, phenomena such as restless legs, tics, stiffness, decreased insulin secretion, decreased defenses and reduced intestinal motility stand out.. What may seem alarming, once understood, serves to act on it.
And yes, we’ve seen cases like Uzi (a professional League of Legends player) who retired with a diagnosis of diabetes, but we also need to focus on the fact that most video game players are responsible for which refers to health habits. and academic and professional care.
And I say that in playing wood, having faced over 50 young people who spent 30 hours a week in the amateur world of League of Legends and seeing that 90% were keeping their lives well and that those who had no other vital problems that also added firewood to get them to experience the heavy use of video games rather as an issue.
Interested in finding out more?
If you want to know more about psychology applied to video games in training that goes to the grain, and that makes the training more educational and less commercial, you may be interested in our course for healthcare professionals available at Gamewell.
It is important to make our young players understand that, to enjoy more and play better, you need to take care of your mental performance; if we teach them how dopamine works, most will act on it. And it helps us promote health habits like sports, sleep hygiene, and even not burn ourselves so much while playing.
There are quite a few young people who took refuge in video games because they took them more seriously (an attitude that could well be seen as a runaway), but it helped them improve their self-esteem and their Warning. Following. And that foundation, in turn, serves as a starting point to rebuild the solution to other vital issues that caused them to seek refuge.