If you're thirsty and you drink, your brain feels pleasure. You feel this same pleasure, borne of satisfying a physical need, when someone you envy is brought low. We call this feeling schadenfreude, but researchers at the National Institute of Radiology in Japan call it dopamine release in the ventral striatum.
As you might imagine, the thirstier you are, the more dopamine released when you drink. The same is true of schadenfreude: the more envious you are, the more your brain likes it when the target of your envy falls on his/her face. Only after our cerebral cortex steps in to evaluate the reason for our pleasure does the neurological experience of schadenfreude diverge from that of quenching thirst: water stays pure, while schadenfreude brings a layer of guilt.
This shared pathway of physical and emotional need suggests that complex emotions like schadenfreude are no less deeply ingrained in our neural systems than basic desires for things like food and water. But here's the question: why d'you think our brain forces us to feel guilty after schadenfreude? What d'you think is the purpose of this interplay between our unrepentant lizard brain and the more recently developed cerebral umbrella that caps it?
And even more importantly, what kind of geek are you? If input="math geek", goto your nearest bookstore and purchase a copy of Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life. If you're a full featured, renaissance geek of all trades looking for a good time at others' expense, consider acopy of The Geeks' Guide to World Domination:
Be Afraid Beautiful People. And if you're a geek of the mind, consider preordering a copy of my new book, Brain Candy: Science, Paradoxes, Puzzles, Logic and Illogic to Nourish Your Neurons
(shipping August 3rd).
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Wait, Let's Not Rush To Be Multiplanetary Or Interstellar - A Comment On Elon Musk's Vision
- Bizarre Forelimb Evolution In Ancient Drepanosaurus Fossil
- Ground Squirrels Use The Sun To Hide Food
- Paleo: In A Clinical Trial, Bread Made With Ancient Grains Could Benefit Heart Health
- Study Explains Mechanisms Behind Glioblastoma Influence On The Immune System
- A Book By Guido Tonelli
- 42 Million Years: Central Asia Is Used To Westerly Winds By Now
- "Fantastic article! One thought on the Kardashev scale though, it ignores energy efficiency. It..."
- "So, Irish-catholic ghettos in Belfast in 60ies through 80ies would be a perfect historical example..."
- "Why to fear of nibiru when we know that we all have to die someday Live Big not Long..."
- "Nice piece of information about nibiru i am starting to feel feared..."
- "Right, good thoughts :). On replicators, yes if a species can make robust self replicating spaceships..."
- San Francisco Soda Tax: A Feel-Good Policy Based on Junk Science
- Watson and Crick did not discover DNA
- Is Parenting Kids of Human and Canine Persuasion the Same? Yes!
- Diabetes: MiniMed 670G Hybrid Closed-Loop Insulin System Is A Waypoint To An Artificial Pancreas
- Celebrate Oktoberfest with Beer Chemistry
- Littlest Consumers Doing Well, Nutrition-wise
- 51 U.S. House Members Urges DEA To Delay "Hasty" Ban On Natural Herbal Supplement Kratom
- Women are a quarter of the 1 percent
- Wetlands and agriculture, not fossil fuels, behind the global rise in methane
- Mass immigration is correlated to higher levels of crime, but not causal
- How would you like a kitchen surface that cleans itself?