The Pleasure Instinct: Why We Crave Adventure, Chocolate, Pheromones, and Music

The Pleasure Instinct: Why We Crave Adventure, Chocolate, Pheromones, and Music

Gene Wallenstein

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0471619159

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Pleasure Instinct: Why We Crave Adventure, Chocolate, Pheromones, and Music

Gene Wallenstein

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0471619159

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An immensely fascinating look at the origins and evolutionary purpose of human pleasure

From our enjoyment of music to our cravings for chocolate, from our love for children and family to our attraction to things of beauty, this book embarks on an intriguing and accessible exploration of the purpose of pleasure in our lives and in human history. How did pleasure evolve and why? How does it develop in children? How does the pursuit of pleasure play a critical role in brain development? The Pleasure Instinct explores everything we need to know about our urge to feel good.

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apparent that brain stimulation was not only rewarding, it was also drive-inducing, and thus became a tool for studying natural motivation. Yet the big question remained unanswered:What exactly does an animal experience when its septum is stimulated? Is it pleasure? Is it sexual in nature? Or is it a general state of arousal that amplifies the natural drives of an animal depending on the contextual cues that surround it? Clearly we can’t ask a rat for commentary, so we have to infer its inner

appear in what will eventually become the neocortex. However, it’s important to note that none of these areas is wired together functionally yet.This occurs in two distinct stages—neurogenesis and synaptogenesis. c03.indd 36 10/29/08 11:55:04 AM What Makes Sammy Dance? 37 How the Developing Brain Gets Wired Our understanding of how the human brain develops from a smooth sheet of ectoderm∗ into the mature adult form has changed radically in just the past ten years. Scientists now have a much

brain region, since it is found in every vertebrate. From the brain-stem sites, the visual information about the ball travels through Kai’s thalamus and enters his primary visual cortex, which provides him with the first conscious perception of the object. Thus, although the brain-stem activation produced a change in behavior causing Kai to focus on the ball, this processing is beneath the surface of consciousness. Once the visual information reaches V1, it quickly diverges into two dominant

manipulated them in terms of their symmetry. In one condition, the geometric shape was manipulated such that two versions of the same form were presented to adult subjects—one perfectly symmetrical, the other asymmetrical. The subjects were asked to “choose the design that is more attractive c09.indd 165 10/29/08 12:06:28 PM 166 The Pleasure Instinct in each pair of designs.” In a second condition, both object shape and coloration were varied—symmetrical in one object and asymmetrical in

diabetes, and heart disease, to name just a few. While this particular example makes sense, one might ask how this general process extends to a fondness for drugs or alcohol. Lactose and fructose were clearly available in our hunter-gatherer days, so it was at least possible that they might be used as selection factors. Those who could identify and consume these resources stood a better chance at surviving to reproductive age. But were alcohol and other psychoactive compounds available? Certainly

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