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:
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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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.
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?
Finally, a long overdue update to tvSmarter. New look, and lots and lots of new links. Hope you check them out!
Here are a few examples:
“Excessive TV in childhood linked to long-term antisocial behavior”
“In fact, for years now, the adversarial gun and film industries have indirectly been in business together, using each other to sell their products even as they cudgel one another on the op-ed pages.”
Bruce Levine has done an excellent job writing an overview of the problems with TV. I especially appreciate his points about TV being used as a pacifier for inmates and patients.
Parents also appreciate the pacifying effects of TV, which is why kids spend more time watching TV than they do in school. How TV effects viewers (cognitively, socially and physically) really is an important issue that is all too often neglected, so it was heartening to read his article in Alternet.org, Salon.com and brucelenine.net.
Here are a few highlights:
Dr. Laura Markham has an excellent overview of the effects of TV, and why parents should limit, or even get rid of the TV.
Why TV Undermines Academics & Values
A sample from her article:
You recommend that kids don’t watch much, if any, TV. Why?
Because TV is addictive, and like all addictions, it has a high cost that we usually avoid acknowledging. Research shows that people who don’t watch TV are happier and healthier, have better self-esteem, and are less fearful.
Females who don’t watch TV have a healthier body image. This is all even more true for kids, because TV has a bigger impact on them. Not surprisingly, families who watch less TV are closer, and kids who see less TV become sexually active at a later age.
But let’s start with reading. We know that kids who love to read do better in school. Virtually all parents say they want their children to love reading, but most kids stop reading books that aren’t assigned in school by middle school. Only 28 percent of eighth graders score at or above the proficiency level in reading; in fact, only two percent of them read at an advanced level. What happens?
TV and reading are linked: Research shows that the more TV kids watch before the age of eight, the less they read after the age of eight. Of course, that’s a correlation, so it doesn’t prove that one leads to the other, but most researchers are convinced. If you want your children to be readers, don’t let them get addicted to TV and videos. Time spent on the one activity precludes the other. And once kids develop the habit of TV, they are less likely to seek out books of their own accord. Books — which are more work — just can’t compete with the lure of the screen.
I really like her question and answer format, some of the other questions are: