Understanding Dopamine Flow Is The Basis Of Psychology Applied To Video Games

Understanding dopamine flow is the basis of psychology applied to video games

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to motivation, goal-oriented behavior, euphoria, pleasure and attention (although the feeling of pleasure after achieving a goal can be attributed to other neurotransmitters or it is not clear if it is exclusively dopamine).

We generate dopamine peaks based on the expectation of a reward, that is, proportionally to its magnitude, its probability of occurrence and its spatio-temporal distance.

Surely you have heard that video games generate dopamine and therefore can be addictive. And period. Normally we do not usually find more depth or rigor in the articles that deal with this topic. However, today you can give it shape.

The relationship between dopamine and video games

Far away is the first study by Koepp and collaborators in 1998 where, for the first time, an increase in dopamine secretion was measured when playing video games in general.

Taking that into account, that video games generate dopamine has always been a correct idea, but one that, for years, has served as a horizon in our understanding. Let’s go further.

What matters for greater dopaminergic capacity is that it flows not that we have “a lot” of dopamine in the brain.

On the other hand, for dopamine to flow we need pre- and post-synaptic receptors; When a receptor absorbs dopamine it goes into regeneration. The regeneration of a single dopamine receptor in the short term (from less than a day to two days) is an enigma.

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We have a neurochemical mechanism that can cause us to modify the expression of our DNA to encode more dopamine receptors and thus have more flow capacity in this aspect; However, this is also limited and can “wear us down.”

Furthermore, if we oversaturate our brain with dopamine, it remains stagnant, which means that we will have fewer dopamine receptors compared to a normal state, and that the few receptors that remain and/or that are slowly regenerating, will be reabsorbing stagnant dopamine. This will leave us a state of low quality of attention, motivation and the ability to feel pleasure

The implications of this on the health of gamers

We do not know what dopaminergic regeneration is like in the short term, but we do know the sustained attention curves and the symptoms of “dopaminergic imbalance”, so, in a way, we can infer in the short term when we have stable dopamine levels. or unbalanced.

On the one hand, attention in general usually takes about 5 minutes to “warm up”, and from there it always goes down gradually, and depending on each situation, an effect of improvement in the quality of attention may be found when the end approaches. of a task.

On the other hand, these are symptoms of dopaminergic imbalance (We talk about imbalance because a very high dopamine always ends in a low dopamine flow).

Dopaminergic imbalance

Among others, Phenomena such as restless legs, tics, rigidity, decreased insulin secretion, lowered defenses and reduced intestinal motility stand out This may sound alarming, but once we understand it, we can act accordingly.

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And yes we have seen cases like that of Uzi (professional League of Legends player) who retired with a diagnosis of diabetes, but we also have to focus on the fact that the majority of video game players are responsible with respect to the health habits and academic-work care.

And I say this, knocking on wood, having compared more than 50 young people who dedicated 30 hours a week in the amateur world of League of Legends and seeing that 90% maintained their lives well and that those who did not have other vital problems that also added fuel to the fire to lead them to experience the high use of video games rather as an escape route.

Are you interested in knowing more?

If you want to learn more about psychology applied to video games In a training that gets to the point, and that makes training more education and less business, you may be interested in our course for health professionals available at Gamewell.

It is important to make our young gamers understand that, To enjoy more and play better, you have to take care of your mental performance ; If we make them understand how dopamine works, most will act accordingly. And this helps us to promote health habits such as sports, sleep hygiene and even not getting burned playing so much.

There are many young people who have taken refuge in video games and as a result of taking them more seriously (an attitude that could well be seen as fleeing forward) this has, however, served them to improve their self-esteem and take better care of themselves. And this base, in turn, serves as a starting point to reconstruct the solution to other vital problems that led them to seek refuge.

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