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Media, Children & Novelty Seekers

Neuro Research Project has a very interesting post on risk-taking, dopamine, and Dr. Christakis’s mouse study.

Note Neuro Research Project ‘s post is based on Dr. Sheikh Arshad Saeed‘s ideas:

http://neuroresearchproject.com/2012/03/14/tv-brain-development-in-children-2/

 

NeuroNotes

Dopamine addiction is an overlooked problem..  Dopamine is the most addictive substance on the planet, a neurotransmitter produced in our own body.

This TEDx video (Media and Children), by Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician, parent, and researcher,  shows young mice taking risks after being exposed to TV,  6 hours a day,  for 42 days. The mice continued to take more (potentially life threatening) risks the longer they were exposed to TV.

Long term exposure to specific types of media, especially in young developing brains, appears to corrupt the reward system;  fewer dopamine receptors.  Over-stimulation from media may produce the same effects on the brain as drugs, i.e. heroin and cocaine.  These drugs artificially extracts more dopamine from nerve cells in the brain, requiring more to get high or satisfied over time.   An abundance of dopamine, due to a low density of dopamine receptors, appears to lead to unhealthy risk-taking.  Risk-taking comes in…

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Of Mice and TV

Mouse1

Until now, animal studies have never been done on the effects of television. I guess for the obvious reason that animals just aren’t interested in watching TV. This has been a huge disadvantage as animal studies have been essential for establishing that a whole host of things, from abuse, to cigarettes, to lead poisoning, to malnutrition are all bad for the developing brain.

But then, Dr. Dimitri Christakis made a brilliant leap, and thought why not look at the effects of background TV on young mice. Since 2008 a handful of studies have shown that even background TV has at least short-term negative effect on young children. But what about the long term effects of background TV? It would be unethical to do experiments on young human children looking the effects of large amounts of background TV throughout their early years. And yet, in real life there is a substantial subset of young children who are being exposed to 4 to 8 hours of background TV every day.

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2008/07/15/parents.should.limit.young.childrens.exposure.background.tv

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/Kids-in-U-S-Exposed-to-4-Hours-of-Daily-Background-TV.aspx

Correlational studies and longitudinal studies have found that children exposed to large amounts of television do worse academically, emotionally and academically. But critics have dismissed these studies as not taking into proper consideration other potential causes (such as poor parenting and/or genetics), with large TV exposure being a symptom rather than a cause.

A mouse study has the potential to discover exactly what the effects are background TV really are and prove that these effects are caused by background TV and not by something else.

So what did Dr. Christakis and his mouse study actually find out?

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