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Risk, pain and pleasure: how humans became fond of spicy


At the beginning of evolution, putting something in the mouth was a Russian roulette that could lead to happiness or death. It is the great challenge of life: the balance between pain and delight.

Silicon Valley, California's mecca for tech entrepreneurship, receives much of the venture capital investment in the United States.

In betting on emerging start-ups, one of the main factors to take into account is the endurance of the investor.

Basically, because the volatile behavior of the markets and the fragility of innovative ideas, with potential negative consequences on investment, generate unacceptable stress.

The curious thing about the matter is that betting on the performance of a reckless purpose, which along with a promise of dividends heralds an exposure to failure, is part of the achievement of our species.

Venture to overcome the savannah, tame the indomitable fire, save unknown landscapes,

crossing seas or launching into the unexplored horizon have been events full of fear and ambition in equal parts, essential to be what we are today.

And who tells us that this neuronal neurotransmitter called anandamide, which contributes both to motivation and decision-making as well as to the ability to act and react in the search for solutions, has not played a role in these episodes?

Today we live thanks to the efforts of our most audacious ancestors.

After some of the craziest decisions, filtered through the fissures of good sense, the most decisive feats of humanity have taken place.

Episodes that have altered the world, at least the human world, despite coming from initially impossible initiatives.

So much so that I am sure that the fact that the brain safeguards us from traumatic memories, burying or nuanced them, and that societies forget the repertoire of sacrifices that success with future returns requires is behind this obsession with taking steps to forward and continue forward.

Precisely from Palo Alto, from Stanford University,

the conclusions of an investigation that came to determine that the attraction to risk behaviors is associated with a small group of neurons found in the nucleus accumbens of the brain.

It seems that in certain people taking risks provokes a greater production of dopamine and, as a result, that satisfaction is triggered, which is linked to that produced by some drugs.

Currently the innocuousness of what is ingested, that is, the search that it does not feel bad, is the guideline;

however, until not long ago the norm was the opposite.

That is why the question remains as to whether this correlation between risk and pleasure is something like collateral damage derived from this obligation to overcome the insecurity inherent in eating something that can make you feel bad or even kill you.

After all, for a long period of evolution, putting something in your mouth was like playing Russian roulette.

Perhaps this maneuver of amplifying the pleasurable aspect in order to minimize the dangers of eating is behind the strengthening of the pleasure/risk relationship in other facets of life.

A paradigmatic case is spicy.

It is not perceived through the taste buds like taste, but through pain receptors, chemical nociceptors that respond to harmful stimuli.

The contradiction occurs in the fact that a strong burning effect, burning, even pain, is accompanied by a pleasant sensation.

The answer to this situation lies in another response, the one given by the central nervous system trying to block this suffering through the release of analgesics such as anandamides, better known as the chemicals of happiness, which produce a euphoria similar to that caused after opiate use.

Anandamide's scope for motivation and reward is such that it induces some individuals to seek out the capsaicin-induced suffering of this pungent nightshade family.

And those mechanisms that the brain uses to neutralize pain, linked to the favorable experience that articulates controlled risk, provoke practices beyond gastronomy.

There remains the fascination for extreme attractions or for walking on the edge of a precipice.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-05-23

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