A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information explores the science behind giving up and provides insight into motivation. Scientists say that the discoveries of this study could help people find motivation when dealing with depression, and decrease motivation for substance use when dealing with addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Motivation and the Brain

There is a group of cells within the brain called nociceptin neurons. Nociceptin is an intricate molecule that suppresses dopamine, which is the chemical associated with motivation. Over four years, the study utilized mice and looked at the role of nociceptin in regulating motivation. The mice had to poke their snouts into a port to get sucrose or sugar. It started easily as one poke and increased from there up to two pokes, five pokes, and so on.

Consequently, the mice gave up. They became frustrated and demotivated to continue to seek the sucrose as it became harder to obtain it. By looking at the nociception neurons in mice seeking sucrose, they discovered that these dopamine-suppressing neurons became more active when the mice stopped seeking the sucrose. Therefore, nociception suppressed dopamine, thus suppressing their motivation and causing the mice to give up.

Application of the Findings

Humans and other mammals’ neural circuits seek homeostasis, or internal stability, to compensate for changes in their environments. Deficits in these regulatory processes in humans can manifest as dysfunctions in behavior, such as depression and addiction. Therefore, the findings of this study could lead to finding help for patients whose motivation neurons are functioning incorrectly. For example, depression causes demotivation, and in these patients research like this may be useful to develop ways to block those neurons and receptors that negatively affect motivation. Furthermore, these neurons could be modified in patients with addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Struggling with Motivation and Addiction?

Addiction suppresses motivation, as evidenced by scientific studies of the brain. Feeling depressed and unmotivated is not uncommon when dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, motivation is naturally inside all of us in the form of dopamine. Therefore, recovery is possible, and there is hope. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges and foster hope for their future. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or visit us online.


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