Have you ever wondered why you like your favourite restaurant?
At the sight of it alone, your brain does into overdrive releasing its favourite yummy drug, dopamine.
This key ingredient helps our brain know what we like, what we choose to buy/do/eat etc, activating reward pathways and helping us remember and learn each time what we like and don’t like.
Dopamine neurons helps us to know our predicted utility – i.e. based on your past experiences, what you expect to get out of a good meal at your favourite restaurant. Is it the wine? Is it the food? Is it the waiter/ress??
However, when that’s interrupted, or the cue isn’t as we expected, (for example if we experience bad food, or poor service) then we encounter a prediction error signal – a readjustment – and our brain learns. See the red lines above.
We learn not to go back there next time expecting the same quality meal.
So it’s quite nifty really. Dopamine helps us to modify our expectations and consequently change our behaviour, allowing us to learn to make different – and maybe better – decisions next time we see our favourtite restaurant, so we also don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Full rights and credits to the content extracted here from Dr Vasily Klucharev’s course ‘Introduction to Neuroeconomics; how the brain makes decisions’ through the National Research University Russia. Available now as an online learning course through Coursera.com. For more information please head to https://www.coursera.org/course/neuroec