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General Question

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

Why do we become bored of stimuli after multiple exposes to it?

Asked by Questionsaboutstuff (176 points ) November 26th, 2012

Why do we become bored of songs, films, stories, jokes, food after having listening to it or having exposures to it multiples times?

Why is it when our cortex becomes adequate at predicting the outcomes of a song, film, joke does that make it less enjoyable? And if so what is the neuroscience behind this phenomena that stops our pleasure center being activated? I get the evolutionary aspect of why this maybe the case but I wanted more detail on the neuroscience side.

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6 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Because we are wired to be stimulated by the new and different.

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@marinelife
Didn’t I say I understand that in the question? I asked to understand the neuroscience

LostInParadise's avatar

You are asking a question about higher order brain function that we don’t know that much about. We do know a little bit about a similar and more primitive aspect of neurons, which is neuron fatigue for neurons that process sensory input If, for example, you are exposed to a certain odor, after a while the neurons that respond to that odor will become fatigued and you will hardly notice it. The evolutionary reason for this is of course similar to what @marinelife mentioned. Once you become aware of a particular odor, there is not much point in overloading your mental processes with it.

thorninmud's avatar

The phenomenon is called “hedonic adaptation”. As for the physiological basis, the responsible organ appears to be the shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAC). Dopamine release in the NAC shell is dependent on the novelty of the stimulus. The best study of this is Rada, Avena and Hoebel 2005, in which dopamine release from the NAC shell of rats was measured following repeated feedings of sugar solution. It was found that after the first exposure to the sugar stimulus, the extra-cellular dopamine dropped off markedly on subsequent exposures.

Dopamine release occurs in other brain organs too, and these also play a role in hedonic response, but the novelty factor seems to be specific to the NAC shell.

Questionsaboutstuff's avatar

@thorninmud
If this is what Im looking for you dont know how much I love you.

thorninmud's avatar

@Questionsaboutstuff Yeah, but you’ll love me less with subsequent exposures

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