Dr. Barry Richmond of the National Institute of Mental Health explains, “Like many of us, monkeys normally slack off initially in working toward a distant goal” (Reuters, 11 Aug 04). He goes on to say that when goals become tangible work ethic skyrockets. The reason?
Drugs. Dopamine (DOPE-A-MEAN), a naturally occuring chemical messenger associated with pleasure, is the brain’s way rewarding advantageous behavior. It’s a marvelous short term strategy, but give a monkey too much time to sit and ponder just how far off that reward is and what you get is some major slacking off.
The solution isn’t more dopamine, actually it’s less. The National Institute of Mental Health has gotten these damn dirty apes to work harder by deactivating their D2 receptors, making the dopamine undeliverable. No longer distracted by a reward the monkeys were free to work and work and work.
Still no Shakespeare as of yet, but they did manage to type this,
“All work and no play makes Cornelius a dull boy.”
Want the ugly truth? Article (pdf) published by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences