by Trevor Haynes
figures by Rebecca Clements

“I feel tremendous guilt,” admitted Chamath Palihapitiya, former Vice President of User Growth at Facebook, to an audience of Stanford students. He was responding to a question about his involvement in exploiting consumer behavior. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he explained. In Palihapitiya’s talk, he highlighted something most of us know but few really appreciate: smartphones and the social media platforms they support are turning us into bona fide addicts. While it’s easy to dismiss this claim as hyperbole, platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram leverage the very same neural circuitry used by slot machines and cocaine to keep us using their products as much as possible. Taking a closer look at the underlying science may give you pause the next time you feel your pocket buzz.

Never Alone

If you’ve ever misplaced your phone, you may have experienced a mild state of panic until it’s been found. About 73% of people claim to experience this unique flavor of anxiety, which makes sense when you consider that adults in the US spend an average of 2-4 hours per day tapping, typing, and swiping on their devices—that adds up to over 2,600 daily touches. Most of us have become so intimately entwined with our digital lives that we sometimes feel our phones vibrating in our pockets when they aren’t even there.

While there is nothing inherently addictive about smartphones themselves, the true drivers of our attachments to these devices are the hyper-social environments they provide. Thanks to the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and others, smartphones allow us to carry immense social environments in our pockets through every waking moment of our lives. Though humans have evolved to be social—a key feature to our success as a species—the social structures in which we thrive tend to contain about 150 individuals. This number is orders of magnitude smaller than the 2 billion potential connections we carry around in our pockets today. There is no doubt that smartphones provide immense benefit to society, but their cost is becoming more and more apparent. Studies are beginning to show links between smartphone usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression, poor sleep quality, and increased risk of car injury or death. Many of us wish we spent less time on our phones but find it incredibly difficult to disconnect. Why are our smartphones so hard to ignore?

The Levers in Our Brains – Dopamine and social reward

Dopamine is a chemical produced by our brains that plays a starring role in motivating behavior. It gets released when we take a bite of delicious food, when we have sex, after we exercise, and, importantly, when we have successful social interactions. In an evolutionary context, it rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.

The human brain contains four major dopamine “pathways,” or connections between different parts of the brain that act as highways for chemical messages called neurotransmitters. Each pathway has its own associated cognitive and motor (movement) processes. Three of these pathways—the mesocortical, mesolimbic, and nigrostriatal pathways—are considered our “reward pathways” and have been shown to be dysfunctional in most cases of addiction. They are responsible for the release of dopamine in various parts of the brain, which shapes the activity of those areas. The fourth, the tuberoinfundibular pathway, regulates the release of a hormone called prolactin that is required for milk production.

Figure 1: Three dopamine pathways and their related cognitive processes. Most of your dopamine is generated deep in the midbrain, and it is released in many different areas across the brain. These areas are largely responsible for behaviors associated with learning, habit formation, and addiction.

While the reward pathways (Figure 1) are distinct in their anatomical organization, all three become active when anticipating or experiencing rewarding events. In particular, they reinforce the association between a particular stimulus or sequence of behaviors and the feel-good reward that follows. Every time a response to a stimulus results in a reward, these associations become stronger through a process called long-term potentiation. This process strengthens frequently used connections between brain cells called neurons by increasing the intensity at which they respond to particular stimuli.

Although not as intense as hit of cocaine, positive social stimuli will similarly result in a release of dopamine, reinforcing whatever behavior preceded it. Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that rewarding social stimuli—laughing faces, positive recognition by our peers, messages from loved ones—activate the same dopaminergic reward pathways. Smartphones have provided us with a virtually unlimited supply of social stimuli, both positive and negative. Every notification, whether it’s a text message, a “like” on Instagram, or a Facebook notification, has the potential to be a positive social stimulus and dopamine influx.

The Hands that Pull – Reward prediction errors and variable reward schedules

Because most social media platforms are free, they rely on revenue from advertisers to make a profit. This system works for everyone involved at first glance, but it has created an arms race for your attention and time. Ultimately, the winners of this arms race will be those who best use their product to exploit the features of the brain’s reward systems.

Reward prediction errors

Research in reward learning and addiction have recently focused on a feature of our dopamine neurons called reward prediction error (RPE) encoding. These prediction errors serve as dopamine-mediated feedback signals in our brains (Figure 2). This neurological feature is something casino owners have used to their advantage for years. If you’ve ever played slots, you’ll have experienced the intense anticipation while those wheels are turning—the moments between the lever pull and the outcome provide time for our dopamine neurons to increase their activity, creating a rewarding feeling just by playing the game. It would be no fun otherwise. But as negative outcomes accumulate, the loss of dopamine activity encourages us to disengage. Thus, a balance between positive and negative outcomes must be maintained in order to keep our brains engaged.

Figure 2: Reward prediction and subsequent dopamine activity. Unexpected rewards increase the activity of dopamine neurons, acting as positive feedback signals for the brain regions associated with the preceding behavior. As learning takes place, the timing of activity will shift until it occurs upon the cue alone, with the expected reward having no additional effect. And should the expected reward not be received, dopamine activity drops, sending a negative feedback signal to the relevant parts of the brain, weakening the positive association.

Variable reward schedules

How do social media apps take advantage of this dopamine-driven learning strategy? Similar to slot machines, many apps implement a reward pattern optimized to keep you engaged as much as possible. Variable reward schedules were introduced by psychologist B.F. Skinner in the 1930’s. In his experiments, he found that mice respond most frequently to reward-associated stimuli when the reward was administered after a varying number of responses, precluding the animal’s ability to predict when they would be rewarded. Humans are no different; if we perceive a reward to be delivered at random, and if checking for the reward comes at little cost, we end up checking habitually (e.g. gambling addiction). If you pay attention, you might find yourself checking your phone at the slightest feeling of boredom, purely out of habit. Programmers work very hard behind the screens to keep you doing exactly that.

The Battle for Your Time

If you’ve been a Facebook user for more than a few years, you’ve probably noticed that the site has been expanding its criteria for notifications. When you first join Facebook, your notification center revolves around the initial set of connections you make, creating that crucial link between notification and social reward. But as you use Facebook more and begin interacting with various groups, events, and artists, that notification center will also become more active. After a while, you’ll be able to open the app at any time and reasonably expect to be rewarded. When paired with the low cost of checking your phone, you have a pretty strong incentive to check in whenever you can.

Other examples highlight a more deliberate effort to monopolize your time. Consider Instagram’s implementation of a variable-ratio reward schedule. As explained in this 60 Minutes interview, Instagram’s notification algorithms will sometimes withhold “likes” on your photos to deliver them in larger bursts. So when you make your post, you may be disappointed to find less responses than you expected, only to receive them in a larger bunch later on. Your dopamine centers have been primed by those initial negative outcomes to respond robustly to the sudden influx of social appraisal. This use of a variable reward schedule takes advantage of our dopamine-driven desire for social validation, and it optimizes the balance of negative and positive feedback signals until we’ve become habitual users.

Question Your Habits

Smartphones and social media apps aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so it is up to us as the users to decide how much of our time we want to dedicate to them. Unless the advertisement-based profit model changes, companies like Facebook will continue to do everything they can to keep your eyes glued to the screen as often as possible. And by using algorithms to leverage our dopamine-driven reward circuitry, they stack the cards—and our brains—against us. But if you want to spend less time on your phone, there are a variety strategies to achieve success. Doing things like disabling your notifications for social media apps and keeping your display in black and white will reduce your phone’s ability to grab and hold your attention. Above all, mindful use of the technology is the best tool you have. So the next time you pick up your phone to check Facebook, you might ask yourself, “Is this really worth my time?”

Trevor Haynes is a research technician in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School.

For more information:

  • Tips for building a healthier relationship with your phone
  • A list of stories from NPR about smartphone addiction
  • A high-level primer on dopamine and how it affects your brain, body, and mood
  • An updated overview of trends in screen addiction, including the impact of COVID-19

164 thoughts on “Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time

  1. A thought-provoking article, thank you. A couple of personal responses follow; use of the masculine pronoun is for brevity, and not intend to be discriminatory.

    “Programmers work very hard behind the screens to keep you doing exactly that.”
    As a Computer Science graduate, it does slightly irritate me how often “programmers” are held accountable for “socially undesirable” business outcomes. For example, contrary to what was reported in the press, programmers at Volkswagen did not specify the behaviour of vehicle emissions systems. A strategist proposed a design, management sanctioned its use, and programmers built and implemented it, in compliance with the design. If the programmer objects to the design on ethical grounds, then he makes his concerns known to his employer, or consults his professional body for advice. Strategy design and selection is not typically an area of the business in which programmers creates value.

    Very interesting that you raise awareness of Instagram’s alleged controlled release of rewards; this is a behaviour which I had anecdotally observed in recent months, so in some ways it is reassuring to receive confirmation.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Stephen. Totally fair comment on the programmer’s role – you are right that is primarily a business decision. Programmers should not be portrayed as the ones making these decisions, and that’s my mistake if that’s how it came off. Although they do consciously play a direct role in “hacking the brain”, so I would argue they are not innocent bystanders. If a programmer at Facebook or Instagram was ethically opposed what their company was doing, surely they could find a job elsewhere, no? I think we can agree that with the wrong incentive structures, good people are forced to do ethically questionable things, and the incentive structures surrounding these companies are problematic, at best. Regardless, I appreciate you reading the article, and taking the time to reply with your thoughts!

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      2. > If a programmer at Facebook or Instagram was ethically opposed what their company was doing, surely they could find a job elsewhere, no?
        Sure, if they (and their family/dependents) can forgo the financial rewards of having spent considerable time/effort and money (education) on being good enough to get a job at these places. One could argue that everyone at Facebook is complicit, directly or indirectly, for all products/features the company produces and therefore anyone with any ethical questions can simply quit. Do you (Trevor) agree with everything ethically Harvard does and says? If not why haven’t you quit? Do all Americans agree ethically with US foreign and domestic policy? No? Quit being an American, burn your passport. Go get another one elsewhere.

        My point being that leaving is not a simple answer. You trivialise a complicated decision.

    2. thank you for writing this amazing article. I am participating in the GKC science and engineering fair, and I am using this article to wright a part of my paper. Wish me luck!

    3. Thanks for the truth. It’s a scarce commodity these days. But just like lab rats the truth is only allowed out in small random doses. The most f***ed up thing is, this makes very clear what CEOs of the megalithic Internet companies think about you, there customer. That you are just Algernon in digital form. Nothing but Data to manipulate for continued profit. At what cost? Our society is burning like Rome did. It was the uncheck greed, dishonesty, and selfishnes of the .1.

      1. I completely agree with Nick Drew. I predicted the loneliness and general weirdness of always being on your phone, texting someone while sitting next to someone else who you are supposed to be having a conversation with, back in 2007. (Well really before that when we had flip phones.) I took the last leap yesterday and removed my Facebook account. I am off of all social media. Back to the land of the living.

        1. Hi Suzy!
          I wandered into this article and comments section after watching the Social Dilemma. I’ve also decided to delete my social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) on my birthday, November 10th, until I can be assured that I’m not actively being manipulated. I’m wondering how your journey is going…all my best to you, internet stranger.

        2. Suzy. How is it going being off Facebook? The last d of the living is getting more and more isolated. I suppose that’s why I have decided to comment. Are you off TV too? I’m thinking of cancelling Netflix.

          1. I’m trying to be off too! I’m not completely there but have gone off for some months and think I might try again. I feel like there should be a support group for people who have decided to leave social media, lol. Since we’re no longer getting dopamine from it, we should seek it elsewhere…

      2. I liked you comment about Rome last days, life for the masses was bread and games (panem et circenses), and it might get much worse before a new civilization or a new dark age comes along. I hope and pray we will wake up and tame the monster quickly, keep our phones out of our bedrooms, and go back to face to face civilization… Although the mega corps might find out that covid increased their user base. I wonder what that will do.

        1. I Think Samsung galaxy S20 Is also good. Everything is good in this smartphone, but the size which is about 6.2 inches little big for me. Also Samsung has improved its sound quality in samsung galaxy S20 with 32-bit of 384kHz audio, which is good for a user. I also want to buy smartphone of galaxy S20 this month. BUT I am waiting for those future phones having 3d or 4d technology 😀

          Thanks for sharing such a nice information.

      3. We as people are not social media companies customers , we are their products , their customers are advertisers who pay them for our time and data. Advertisers shape how these companies work, just like global corporations shape foreign and domestic policies.

        We are nothing but a herd

    4. To whom it may concern, This thing that I’ve been researching called TMS transcranial stimulation,has some how found its way into my life, an it’s been evasive to me in ways that I know are’nt supposed to go on.I’m telling you this because I don’t understand what they want. All I know is somebody programmed their software, to be able to manipulate and mimic sounds of alot of different animals,people, etc. I was an still am being harassed by whomever, an Thiers more than just one doing this to me. I’ve looked at some other things that could be the cause, like augmented reality, VR, Mixed reality. And the reason I think it’s transcranial magnetic stimulation is because of the energy waves that are hitting my head, an the evasive stuff it does like hurt my feet with some sort of microwave energy. Also they are always sexually doing things to me . And making it seem like it’s actually happening but in reality it’s not. It sounds bizarre but I swear it’s going on. Can’t stop it an aluminum foil hats etc, I can’t wear it because I had gotten extremely nauseated an through up. It could make me very hot, an fatigue, cold chills also occurr. Etc. They could have driven me crazy if I did’nt know my own self. I’m looking for some kind of way to have this stopped. An get some much needed time on my own, instead of feeling somebody what’s to do me harm. It started on,Dec.18, 2018, an has’nt let up to this day. Sat,August.8/2020. The exact time,was 12:25am. Started hearing what I thought was frequencies. Thank you, an I’m hoping maybe you have an answer to my issues. I’m fine now but who knows about later on?? Nonfiction,. I had to say that. Pretty far out there eh?? Technology is moving at an alarming rate.

      1. Sweetheart you need to visit with your doctor. Has anyone in your family had a history schizophrenia? You are describing the symptoms.

        1. This isn’t a schizophrenic person. After a thorough examination of his text I have concluded that fact .

          1. Yet the land of the living is no longer what was. It’s a lonelier place, as we find ourselves often surrounded by people who are present in body only, their face so buried in their phone they don’t even notice we exist.

    5. Very interesting, Thank you for your input. The showing of dopamine release and the science between business and screen time is kinda scary but cool in a way. As someone who owns social media, namely instagram it’s nice to know the reason for why I spend the time I do on the app. After reading this article I am a little more aware of the business and how it affects me. I am writing an outline for a speech im giving on this subject and this article helped me greatly. Screens are becoming more and more of a problem especially amongst my peers. because of this article maybe we can start analyzing the health to screen time affects correlation within our society today. Myself and my group members are going to forward this article to some friends and are thankful for the wonderful read, thank you!

      1. Excellent! The world needs this new consciousness and awareness related to screen time! It may be related to some of the dark behaviors in our world today. Depending on the path one takes online, a completely real and altered reality could cause harmful results in the real world.

  2. Wow. Your article touches base on a good amount of research I am doing for the North East Regional Honors Conference in regards to Classical Conditioning and tying that behavior theory to the way Facebook interacts with consumers. There was an app developer who created a program that would block notifications and consumers no longer found enjoyment in using the social media programs.

    Would it be possible to email me the works cited page as some of the sub-links are protected in a Harvard database?

  3. Dear Trevor,
    Thanks for this article. I am not a neuroscientist nor am I looking to become one. I want nonetheless to learn more. Could you please recommend a book or a literature review that would provide more teaching regarding the subject matter? I am looking for something informative but not expert level at the same time.
    I have background in life and material sciences if that helps.
    Kind regards,

    Youcef Chakib Hacene

      1. I was a bit irked at the self-promotion, but your work is very well-made and relevant! Just a heads up: your link is broken! (404 error)

  4. I started looking into this subject after learning to identify the symptoms of a dopamine bunk from Sapolsky’s lecture on depression… and then identifying said symptoms when looking at the FB feed… particularly around the time when “all you find is old stuff you’ve already seen” and get denied the dopamine-boost from finding something new and shiny on your FB wall…
    I noticed that too much FB lead me to a serious lack of motivation, drive and energy to do pretty much anything else… and after I started “budgeting” the time on it and blocking the newsfeed I would have a lot more drive to learn/do many more things on the days when I used little or no FB at all…
    Your article brings a lot of clarity on some of the underlying mechanisms, and also confirms some of my intuitions around the “Negative Prediction Error”. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks. Your honesty helps me. I too need to budget my time. My motivation is lacking and it frustrates me.

  5. Hi Trevor : Thanks for your insight. This explains to me the behaviour of people constantly using their smartphones even when they are physically in the presence of friends and family. I find this behaviour strange.

    My early exposure to cell phones and texting was at work as a construction supervisor and I was constantly inundated with negative communications – even angry communications. I experienced phantom cell phone buzzing even when I didn’t have the cell phone with me. So I developed a negative attitude to cell phones and I cringe whenever it rings or a text message arrives. My preference now is not to carry my cell phone with me wherever I go. I also avoid social media sites for similar reasons.

    I wonder if similar effect is contributing to obesity. Dopamine release from eating “fast” foods influences us to eat “fast” food again and probably in larger quantities. Do you have any thoughts on this ?

    1. Check out Dr. Robert Lustig’s work on addiction and food, especially his latest book “The Hacking of the American Mind” since it links the work of Tristan Haynes to sugar/processed food addiction. Very interesting!

  6. Thanks for calling this obsessive smart-phone use what it is: an addiction. My workplace, believe it or not, allows people to have access to their smart phones and other devices while supposedly performing their job duties (duties that require a high degree of critical thinking and analysis). This strikes me as insanity, but I think leadership takes the standpoint that it’s impossible to fight.

    1. Excellent article, thanks. Depth and detail much appreciated. Am struggling with time-wasting myself despite some knowledge of neurocognitive area. Pathways etc very helpful. There’s never been a bigger drug cartel in history yet we let them make millions off us while literally feeding every man, woman and child user a mega dose of addictive drugs daily, reducing the quality of our living and, critically, of our thinking. Time extreme measures were taken to force deactivation of algorithms (unless actively chosen by informed users) by Facebook, Google and Co. Dealing drugs is illegal, especially undisclosed.

  7. Thank you so much. Behind your every words bringing some thing important for present and future generation healthy and peace life. Science & Technology is need in every aspects but it cannot control the humanity so need to bring some solution in this matter. Certain powerful herbs, sounds, aroma bringing down such mass trapping systems. so we need your guide in this matter.

    1. Actually. Teens are addicted. When they don’t have their phones they start to break down and not know what to do, or if they don’t get to talk to their friends they start to feel “Depressed” or “Lonely”. Teens that think they need their phone 24/7 never see the outside world and enjoy the moment with their love ones before they are gone.

      1. It’s more that for most teens who grew up with these since toddlers, their baseline is technology. Millenial’s baseline was not technology. So does this still classify them as addicted? When it was their dietary staple from 2 years old?

  8. Great article Trevor. quite insightful. I think, instead of diving into the semantics of arguing if these behaviours should be classified as addictions or not, we should acknowledge the subtle but serious effects these gadgets are having in the quality of our lives. Social media, needless to say, is a great communication tool that has, in many ways, re-inforced what we have come to call the “global village”. It is however, in our best interests to curb its negative effects (which cant be done if we persist in denial ) Companies lose millions in productivity on a daily basis because of distracted employees who cant resist fidgeting with their gadgets every 5 mins. Children lose the valuable connection (quality time devoid of technological distractions) with their parents…the list is endless! Granted, its not everyone who’s so dangerously hooked, but what becomes of humanity if those who have the power to effect change become innocent by standers? The nomarlcy of people’s lives has to be restored because “cyber zombies” will not be master performers!

  9. Trevor this is an interesting article and is the basis of one of my research work on “Customer Behavior can be altered when you introduce AI or IOT in Retail & Banking Industry”.

    If there is an ongoing work that I can contribute and learn will be more than happy to be engaged. I’m available at

    And thanks for those reading recommendations in the reading section. Appreciate the input from fellow readers.

  10. I have a 13 year old that only recently I allowed to use Snapchat. But as soon as I did, I regretted it! I saw a difference min behavior almost immediately. I monitor her phone and age appropriate apps, but it’s almost a second job in terms of time consuming
    (worthwhile of course). I cringe when I see a parent hand over their cell phone to a rowdy kid just to shut them off. Let’ not even get into the fact that so many parents don’t even set parental controls on those devices. It’s like handing the kid a loaded gun. It’s a shame that kids know how to use and manipulate the devices better than their parents in some cases. I call for parental training as an ethical mandate by the digital world, if we don’t educate the parents first, both parent and kid are headed down a rabbit hole that they will not be able to climb out of.

    1. You made the choice to allow her use of the app. With a smartphone you’d given her.
      Then you monitor the use quite obsessively.

      “An apple never falls far from the tree, unless it’s on a hill.” Good luck on having a grandchild.

  11. I’m sorry. I wasn’t t finished . I hit a button. So anyway I really enjoyed your article and it’s true people were always on there phones. And I didn’t even get on Facebook til 2017 and boy was I ignorant. But before that I couldn’t understand why people were so into there phones and enjoying themselves! But I’m 60 and I found out that when I had my phone in my hand I had a world of knowledge,! I went to libraries all my life I worked as a drywall finisher and painter were I usually worked alone and then i’ d go home , So im really no good at social apps. Plus some people are evil and thinks it’s funny watching you crash from repetitive sign ins and passwords. And stealing ones Facebook and emails and messages so there’s really no chance of having a social life They do when they start signing in social apps and pretend to be you or ruin your name and character . But I just good at getting over things pretty good and I always had a passion for learning things since I was a child. But anyway make a long story shorter. I love the fact that I can look up anything! WOW! So I’m on a very high dose of dopamine!! And now other people who were on their phones thru all the holidays, and social events, and family things are commenting to me their dislike of me with my face in my phone alot. But even thru all the hacking and cloning of apps and rediections I decided I was going to learn and thru that I found my passion again. Passion for learning about everything and hopefully finding others who feel the same way and are generous with there knowledge, perception and eagerness to put their words out cause I’m addicted to reading and learning about the world! And because I enjoyed your views and your readers commenting, and I being a shut in Thank You cause you are right about the natural dopamine flowing thru my Brain. Because of my phone! God bless you!

  12. Great article. I’m wondering if you can send a link or two that shows how the dopamine levels in the brain are measured? Your article assumes a lot about dopamine and how it moves about and how much is related to the various things we do, but to my knowledge, there aren’t any tests to show what dopamine levels in the brain are at all let alone before and after events we go through. Thanks.

  13. Hi,
    I’m writing a paper which talks about social media’s effects on the brain and social media addiction. I have been reading and hearing a lot of discussion about dopamine’s reward system and how it gets activated when you use social media and how this can be addictive, but I can’t find any scientific peer-reviewed articles on the topic. I absolutely love this article and want to quote from it, but I am apprehensive because it is technically not a peer-reviewed scientific research article like the ones you referenced. Would you consider this to be scholarly enough to use in a 3rd year university essay?

    Thank you!

    1. I think your best bet is to rely on primary literature before any secondary source. Glad you enjoyed the piece though!

  14. Any studies on how this is impacting the treatment of younger people (those under say 25 who have been exposed to these apps / sites since before puberty) that actually get addicted to “traditional” sources (alcohol, drugs, etc.) ?

  15. Smaller screens also reduce device’s capacity to hold our attention. Again, this has happened a very long time ago with BlackBerry’s, so it isn’t limited to iPhones and Android as well.

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  20. I am doing some research on dopamine and specifically on what types of stimuli seem to be especially increasing its levels and why.
    I am hearing some people being 100% sure that it’s dopamine increase responsible for people making certain choices, that not necessarily are good for them, although I cannot find any conclusive scientific backing that would somewhat exclusively point at dopamine. Is there anything else, you would recommend on the topic?

    1. Any stimuli that involves instincts ( food , sex , social interaction , fear , but one above all is novelty , more over its effect depends on how much your PFC iS developed

  21. The irony is that people with dopamine molecule tattoos have probably condemned themselves to minimum wage McJobs in coffee houses etc.

    If you say so.

  22. A Simple Neural Hack to end Distraction (a novel perspective from affective neuroscience)
    Distraction is hard to resist because it is an affective state, as it is embodied by increases in dopamine levels due to the novel outcomes implicit in distractive events. Dopamine adds transitory utility or value to moment to moment decisions and is harmful to effective decision making when it is not aligned with long term goals, as we well know by succumbing daily to social media, emails, and other distractors. The best way to eliminate distraction is to pursue meaningful activities that have more significant affective outcomes, or to induce greater positive affect by managing the unique ways incentive motivation works in the human brain. To demonstrate this latter point here is an easy procedure to increase meaningful behavior, accentuate positive affect, and eliminate distraction.
    Simply follow a simple resting protocol (mindfulness procedure is best for this), and simultaneously pursue or anticipate pursuing meaningful behavior (e.g. cleaning house, writing poetry, exercise, etc.). Do this continuously for standard sessions of a least a half hour and chart your progress. As a result, you will be more pleasurably alert, engaged, and incented to continue being productive and resist distraction. Neurologically, this is due to ‘opioid-dopamine’ interactions, or the fact that rest is pleasurable due to the induction of opioid activity in the brain. Meaningful activity on the other hand induces dopaminergic activity, which is felt as a state of alert arousal but NOT pleasure. Opioid and dopamine neurons are located adjacently in the midbrain, and when both are simultaneously activated will also co-stimulate each other, resulting in enhanced feelings of arousal and pleasure. Indeed, when rest is accompanied by highly meaningful behaviors (creating art, athletic achievement), pleasure and alertness are highly accentuated, resulting in ‘peak’ or ‘flow’ experiences. So, there is my procedure to increase productivity and reduce distraction, and all without inspirational screeds, lectures, books, or seminars, with the added benefit that you can prove or falsify my hypothesis for yourself, give or take an hour!

    This interpretation is based on the work of the distinguished neuroscientist Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan, a preeminent researcher on dopamine, addiction, and motivation, who was kind to vet the work for accuracy and endorse the finished manuscript.
    Berridge’s Site

    I offer a more detailed theoretical explanation in pp. 47-52, and pp 82-86 of my open source book on the neuroscience of resting states, ‘The Book of Rest’, linked below.

    Meditation and Rest
    from the International Journal of Stress Management, by this author

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  24. Nicely explained. As the best practice, it is better-avoided smartphones and checking the notifications and social media for the first 2 hours after waking up. That will help to control the dopamine effect by smartphones throughout the day.

  25. Fantastic article , Thats the reason why companies like YouTube , Facebook are billions of dollars in valuation despite offering the public Their services for free , we live in a world of endless supernormal stimuli , ready to provide endless instant gratification , what worries me more is the effect of this on kids ( as their prefrontal cortex are yet to develop ) , and the effect of synaptic pruning , more over the deviation of the HPA axis ( due to the negative state ) causes the rapid degradation of dendrites in the prefrontal cortex ( whose main function is delaying of gratification ) also PFC has connections with nucleus accumbens thereby controlling the release of dopamine in response to any stimuli , as the phenomenon of high speed internet is quite new , it’s seriously effects are yet to come out .

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  27. Recently, I have commenced a blog the info you give on this site has encouraged and benefited me hugely. Thanks for all of your time & work.

  28. Staying organized always helps in enhancing efficiency and the same holds true for devices. Most people think of cleaning up their phones only when it starts misbehaving or when something goes wrong. Though the Android devices are smart enough and don’t require any regular maintenance but performing a digital tune-up once in a while is always a good idea to keep it performing to its maximum potential.

  29. Hi,
    Thanks for writing this in-depth review.
    In fact, I found the information I was looking for in your article. It’s really helpful.
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  30. There is an excellent episode from the Designed to Heal podcast featuring Dr. Anna Lembke, Ph.D, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, where she discusses social media addiction and our need as a culture to “always stay connected”. The points she made include how these social media platforms were specifically designed to be addictive by their creators and how human psychology tactics were maliciously used in order to purposefully addict users. Anna recently contributed to the widely acclaimed Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” where she warned about the dangers of our rapid-growing addictive behavior. I won’t spoil too much of the episode, because its PACKED full of great information, but I will say she strongly advises all social media users take a hard look at their online behaviors as well as hold themselves personally responsible for how they engage online and how that affects their mental health. Awareness that social media is a DRUG because it was DESIGNED to be addictive is the first step in helping to combat these addictive tendencies.

    Link to Listen:

    YouTube Channel:

  31. It is a great blog post.I am always read your blog helpful and informative tips. I like it thanks for sharing this information with us

  32. A similar thing happens with language. Use the right caring tone of voice, or the right hectoring tone and you can make a person accept any disadvantage. The tone of voice is addictive because it wakes up the dopamine. Meanwhile, although the action which accompanies it may disadvantage the hearer, the immediate dose of dopamine means the hearer doesn’t count the cost until later. All the most successful sales people have ‘that’ voice, as do successful politicians.
    Other words and phrases are designed to evoke a neutral reacion – e.g. expressions like ‘collateral damage’. When people hear that they don’t think of mangled bodies and burning corpses, they think ‘some damage but not much’. Then they think ‘that’s good’.

    Recently bought a very old Nokia brick. The fancy samsung is being demote – just for email when I’m out and about.
    Never liked spacebook, myface and instantgasm.

  33. Now, it is extremely common to see digital art everywhere, with software and technology being readily available for the general public as well as those in the profession or studying the subject. It has come quite the distance since Microsoft first gave us Paint, and it is likely that art technology will continue to progress to positions that previously might have been thought of as unimaginable. It may sound like a First World problem, but with so much choice when it comes to the medium in which artists can express themselves, this can almost become debilitating.

  34. I have been on the internet lately, looking for something to read and that is how I came across your site and saw this article of yours. So, I decided to see what it says and I find out that it is so amazing. You really did a great work in on your site and the articles you posted on it. You really take your time in posting this article or and they are clearly detailed. Once again, you are good at article writing and I will be coming back to view more article updates on your site.

  35. This is the perfect web site for everyone who wishes to find outabout this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic whichhas been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

  36. It’s a battle of continuing the game for more rewards or ending it as soon as possible. Really difficult to say no if you don’t have the will to do so. It’s the time that is at risk even our health.

  37. No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after reading good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post

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  39. It’s actually mostly unthinkable to see well-advised readers on this content, even though you seem like you know the things that you’re writing about! Thank You

  40. Yeah, that’s true. Once I went to the countryside and there wasn’t a network. That was really strange, I felt like on the other planet. And I think that everyone agree with me, that almost all of our communication and sometimes business processes are on our smartphones. I read an interesting article at about the integration of messages and calls in our smartphones and I wonder who did invent it? That man for sure made our life easier, but it’s much harder at the same time.

  41. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here keep up the good work

  42. I switched back to a flip flop phone, and i haven’t looked back! the problem is, instant gratification can hit different people with different intensity! I have gone through a massive personality shift because i could create an online image that doesn’t exist in reality. This is a serious problem.

  43. I have read your article it is really great informative and very helpful specially those people want to learn read and improve our knowledge read more

  44. Hey, I was looking for useful information on iPads and just came across your blog and found it quite interesting, can’t wait to see your new post. You’ve been sharing really insightful posts and I’m an avid reader of your posts. Keep sharing the knowledge and adding value to our lives.

  45. Hello there,

    Firstly, A bunch of thanks for sharing such valuable information with us. Actually, I was doing some research about the Dopamine and social reward & affect on human mind. And I get landed over your article & it was too informative.

    Thank you

  46. Thanks for another wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing?

  47. Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.

  48. I’m suspicious to talk but I don’t live without a cell phone anymore. I’m even making an application that I need to put lots of data about flowers names. They’ve already experimented with users and they loved it!

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  50. Extremely interesting article! I was wondering if you would mind if Itranslate it into Spanish (my mother tongue) and publish it on my blog. Its a free translations blog I will make sure to include clear attribution author, original publication, etc.

  51. I view the situation as this: Rosalina represents her Iceworld plus all unowned rainbow tracks. Although Honey Queen primarily represented MK7’s Rainbow Road, that’s not to say it doesn’t represent Rosalina as-well. Rainbow Road is located in space with a Mario-Galaxy feel to it; therefore can relate to both HQ and Rosalina.However, Rainbow Road won because it was a great course and not because of the characters that represent it. The characters popularity may have helped a little, but for the most part, no not really.

  52. Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.

  53. Hi!
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  54. Thank you for putting this out there. I agree with your opinion and I hope more people would come to agree with this as well.

  55. I was doing research and found your article. You have shared a great piece of knowledge. Thanks a lot for sharing such a good stuff to us. Keep posting!

  56. Very delighted to come across this useful blog. Considering the research conducted by the Pew Research center in 2014, one can easily deduce the fact, how much part of our life this little plastic box occupies. It is clear that just to get rid of boredom, we compromise on our social life or don’t remember even the basic things in our life, and we tend to bow down before our phone. Since, I have gone through your blog and found it useful, I will be glad if you visit my blog and share your valuable opinion :

  57. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work.

  58. This is a nice post in an interesting line of content, great way of bring this topic to discussion.

  59. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me.

  60. I’m searching for a super nintendo beat’em’up style game, that I never seen since my childhood. It featured big buffed guys, and you could beat wending machines, to give you canned drink, that you could drink (seemingly the character was pressing the can against his forehead as he drank) and gain lifebar back. Anyone remembers?

  61. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

  62. That was quite an insightful article. Social media apps overwhelm people with so much information that it’s so easy to create an illusional world. We really need to educate ourselves and take the time to examine thourougly any information we read, or any role model that we are supposed to look at. Is it really trustworthy or not


  63. I’m searching for a super nintendo beat’em’up style game, that I never seen since my childhood. It featured big buffed guys, and you could beat wending machines, to give you canned drink, that you could drink (seemingly the character was pressing the can against his forehead as he drank) and gain lifebar back. Anyone remembers?

  64. Hello my family member! I want to say that this article is awesome, great written and include almost all important infos. I would like to see more posts like this.

  65. C’mon, people, it’s their picks for the best SNES games. If you think Secret of Mana is the best, props to you. If you think Super Metroid is better than Super Mario Kart, that’s fine. This is their pick and your comments aren’t going to change it. The sooner you all get that the better off you’ll be.And before anyone calls me a hypocrite, I did wonder why Chrono Trigger was only #5 when it was on their “”best games of all time”” list. It just didn’t make sense for it to be lower than A Link to the Past when even that isn’t on the best games of all time list.

  66. Thank you because you have been willing to share information with us. we will always appreciate all you have done here because I know you are very concerned with our.

  67. I am amazed over this nice information. I definitely love this blog site. I hope to read more from you someday again.

  68. Apps you download and leave them scattered all over your phone screen can be confusing when you want to find and use them. Whether it’s virtual data or real-life documents, what you should do is organize them neatly.
    For example, social networking apps like Facebook, Instagram or Zalo, you should put them in the same topic and name them. This will save your screen space, and you will feel more comfortable using your phone!

  69. You got a nice write up here and I really want to thank you for sharing this post as it contains a lot of information, keep up this good work.

  70. Thank you for bringing this to the public’s attention. I agree with your point of view, and I hope that more people will come to agree with you as well in the future. While developing the McDonald’s menu, I encountered a number of difficulties. Even in firms where I needed to obtain raw materials, males were reluctant to conduct business with women because of dopamine in the environment.

  71. I just found this blog and have high hopes for it to continue. Keep up the great work, its hard to find good ones. I have added to my favorites. Thank You.

  72. thanks for the article on your site the article help me a lot have been looking for this for some time now and the article is nice thanks ones again.

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  74. Thanks for sharing such useful information. I never thought about the effects of smartphones on our brains. Unfortunately, smartphones and social media became a necessary and important part of life, which we can’t avoid due to various reasons.

  75. I am very happy to have visited your page and look forward to many of the interesting and exciting experiences that I can find this site. Thank you thank you for each of the interesting points.

  76. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work…

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