Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder (UoCB) have hit the bull’s eye on understanding why people get happy in some circumstances and not so in others. Going out for dinner, for instance, with the love of your life could cause a flood of dopamine that infuses the brain’s reward centre. Such is the dopamine flood, that one’s mind can urge one to go to extremes that the person wouldn’t do in normal circumstances.
The UoCB researchers have essentially found a biological signature of desire that can explain why you like being and doing things with particular people more than others.
Neurologically, it is already known that nucleus accumbens, an area in the ventral striatum of the brain, is firmly associated with reward and motivation. It is part of the complex circuits involving the amygdala and the hippocampus. It is the activation of the nucleus accumbens that causes dopamine levels in this region to rise, in turn making the individual’s happiness levels to rise.
The research has helped gain fresh insights into the goings-on inside the brain to make intimate relationships possible and how we get over it, neurochemically speaking, when those bonds are severed. The study points to further understanding the paths to happier times with people, as well as making environments — including work environments — suited to a higher flooding of dopamine to achieve better results at work.
The researchers, however, believe that their study could ultimately impact people who either have trouble forming close relationships or those who struggle to get over loss—a condition known as prolonged grief disorder.