Friday, March 31, 2006

Not good to be high on this dope

It's all in the mind and too much dopamine may be to blame for messed up perceptions.
Some research indicates that an excess of dopamine in the brain can cause people to spot patterns where others see only random data. Dopamine is the chemical in our brains most commonly associated with pleasure. Too little of it can lead to attention deficit disorder and Parkinson's disease. Too much, though, leads to schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Researchers at University Hospital at Zurich found that subjects given a dose of dopamine were more prone to seeing faces and words when scrambled patterns appeared on a screen in front of them. Peter Brugger, the neurologist who led the study, says the results show that dopamine not only plays a role in detecting patterns in visual displays but probably in perceiving patterns -- real or not -- in events. A tendency to spot patterns and connect the dots is the foundation of conspiracy theorizing.

"If there is too much [dopamine], you begin to develop hallucinations and delusions, including delusional ideas of reference," Brugger says.

I'm of course wondering whether those who see simulacra left and right are just suffering from having a brain that's producing too much of this substance. May be advantageous as an adjunct to creativity but it sure isn't prescribed for those already afflicted with the god delusion.

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