Ventral Striatum Lights Up
When We Seek Thrills

With the recent news item about ventral striatum being identified by scientists as the reason for thrill or novelty seekers, we get some new insights about our behavior.

Most of us are regular type of people but some times we may try to do some very new things like going for a boat race for the very first time or go on an ecotour of a rain forest in the hope of getting some thrills and adventures.

The seeds for such an action on our part might have been planted in our minds in some very interesting TV ads.

Imagine this scene : A scantily clad and breath taking beauty barely out of her teens is coming out of the sea onto the beach with a huge smile on her mischievous face and starts her slow walk swinging her hips enticingly.

But suddenly a mean and fierce looking gorilla pounces on her, knocking her down on to the beach sands and trying to grab her, making her to shriek...

...not with horror,

but with delight!

Unbelievable thought? Perhaps.

But that is how product marketers and advertisers create their imaginative ad films for TV channels to entice their customers.

This ad might be for any product but it is to induce the viewers to buy their products with the suggestion that if they do so they will get huge rewards.

Many of the products may prove to be a great success as they are but as time passes the marketers and the advertisers of the products have to create newer and newer advertisements to remove staleness of their existing ads or every time they try to create some variations or modifications to the products with or without additional benefits to the users.

And surprisingly many times such tactics prove successful in the market place and some times with great success since some of the products may sell very well indeed following such advertisements.

Why is it so?

Scientists Dr Wittmann and colleagues at University College of London have recently announced that they have identified a key region of the brain, which encourages us to seek adventures or thrills in the hope of getting superior rewards.

According to their findings when volunteers tried to go for the cards which gave them higher points, an area of the brain known as the ventral striatum located in a primitive area of the brain lit up indicating that it was more active. The technique used in this case is known as functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Dr Wittmann explained that both humans and animals exhibit similar behavior in seeking new and unfamiliar experiences, since there was a possibility of getting better benefits from such actions.

So according to her a monkey has a chance of getting an enriched diet and better nutrition when it tries a new type of food as compared to its regular diet of bananas. To find such new food types it may even have to explore different parts of the forest, which in essence is a search for new, unfamiliar experiences and novelties.


She elaborated the point about ventral striatum further by stating "This introduces the danger of being sold ‘old wine in a new skin’ and is something that marketing departments take advantage of."

That is the reason marketing and advertisement departments of consumer products sometimes come out with outlandish advertisements in the hope that the consumers will fall for such ads and buy their products.

When such expected results come out true for them for their ads they are likely to say :

“When Recent History Comes Out With Pure Geography It Is High Economics, that is High Profits For Us.”

Here the meanings are as follows:

Recent History : The young girl model in the advertisement. Since she is young in age she is not old enough to have a history!

Pure Geography : By showing the scantily clad model the advertisers display a lot of her body, which is geography.

High Economics means high profits.

So, next time we see an ad on our TV screens making some highly exaggerated or outlandish claims, let us smile and bear it or simply say "Ventral Striatum."

But we should not forget the other side of the coin here.

As rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate the animals living there find that their habitats shrink further and further.

So for sheer survival many dangerous animals may seek their food in nearby towns and cities and if they get food in an easier manner this way it may induce them to do more "sorties" into the towns and cities for more diets and nutrition.

This way it will be a source of thrill and excitement for the rainforest animals as per the signals from their thrill centers located in their ventral striatum but it will be disastrous for humans.

Hence it becomes prudent for us to do our very best not to destroy the rainforests and try to save them as much as possible.

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