A Conversation for Dopamine
Dopamine- Attention Flow
Researcher 183613 Started conversation Sep 1, 2001
Ever heard of the Flow State? It has been argued that flow occurs because of highly focussed attention- dopamine release- reinforcement- even more attention focussing- more dopamine release. It is a self-rewarding behaviour that can continue until exhaustion drops you out of it. But which comes first: Focussing of attention or dopamine release? I think it has to be wilful focussing of attention which comes first, not an addictive reliance on dopamine.
There are times when our everyday activities become highly enjoyable and fulfilling. Almost everyone has something that provides such experiences, something that they just love to do. The term flow was introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1975; 1990, Flow; and 1997 Finding Flow) to describe these moments when awareness merges with our activity, leading to an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Flow is thought to depend on the balance of high challenges and high skills, with clear goals and immediate feedback, which leads to concentration, loss of self-consciousness, a feeling that time has speeded up, and deep involvement, which leads to an intrinsically motivating experience. According to Csikszentmihalyi's theory is that there are 8 categories of human experience, one of which is flow, apathy is another and it is the opposite of flow.
Flow is hardly a new idea. It has been recognised throughout history, the metaphor formed in ways relevant to times and cultures, from the Yu of Chuang Tzu, and the Taoist Chi to the contemporary sports term the Zone. Whatever the synonyms are used, the experience is always of mind-body-environment unity, leading to enjoyment, meaning, happiness, fulfilment, and optimal states of mental and physical well-being. In the 20th century, Abraham Maslow (1964;1971) began to study these experiences from a modern psychological perspective, using the term peak experience. Maslow's humanistic study of states of optimal experience was inspired by the apparent similarity of reports from mystics, creative people, and the most enjoyable experiences of peoples' everyday life. He saw that rapture and transcendence can be found in activities as diverse as rituals, chess, childbirth, and mountaineering. These experiences provided Maslow with grounds for supposing some common underlying principles for human fulfilment, but he relied only on analysis of the extended metaphors of those belief systems and reports. Peak experience has since been approached experimentally by Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick sent me hi), based on self-report data using qualitative and quantitative analyses (Csikszentmihalyi,1975,1990; Massimini and Carli, 1983; Csikszentmihalyi and Massimini, 1975). Their theory of flow states that there are some common underlying factors in all human optimal experiences.
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