Curiosity (and art) is Addictive

A new theory based on some old research is that our drive to figure things out can be as addictive as doing drugs. If you’ve ever had to deal with a complex problem and found the solution you know that particular feeling of success.

it turns out that our brains react to learning new things (which solve a problem we have) in a similar way we react to opiates.

Biederman hypothesized that knowledge addiction has strong evolutionary value because mate selection correlates closely with perceived intelligence. In other words, addictions and cravings might stem from this need for knowledge. Even more interesting is the relationship Biederman believes exists between this same mechanism and art.

Biederman’s theory was inspired by a widely ignored 25-year-old finding that mu-opioid receptors – binding sites for natural opiates – increase in density along the ventral visual pathway, a part of the brain involved in image recognition and processing. Viewing art and understanding the beauty behind actually activates the same areas in the brain as a drug-induced high.

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