What actually happens in brain when we watch a lot of highly stimulating content regularly (eg- TikTok)?


I have heard stuff like dopamine desensitization but was never explained properly about what actually happens inside the brain.

I am interested in knowing what happens inside the brain, the neurobiological stuff (sorry if I used the wrong word)

In: 382

So think of something that you love like Ice Cream the first time you have it’s the most amazing thing ever. But the more Ice Cream you eat the less it satisfies you so you eat more and more and want to try different flavours to chase that original feeling. So you end up eating entire tubs of Ice Cream just to feel satisfied and when you aren’t eating Ice Cream you are thinking about Ice Cream.

TikTok isn’t “highly stimulating”. If you were to ask the average TikTok viewer (and were assured of an honest answer) they would say most of the videos they watch are utter trash that is occasionally punctuated by something worth watching. All it’s doing is keeping your mind occupied with drivel, which isn’t likely to change your brain chemistry in any way, except maybe varying degrees of depression that tend to follow such empty pursuits.

Your brain neurons have a bunch of receptors. Dopamine is an excitatory transmitter. Dopamine excites the neuron and nearby neurons.

Too much dopamine is damaging to the neuron so the neuron has to down regulate, i.e. it closes off some of the receptors. This leads to needing a bigger hit to get the same feeling as before. This is called tolerance.

When you continue to take bigger hits to get the pleasurable feeling, eventually the neuron dies. This is called addiction.

Conversely there is serotonin which is inhibitory. Serotonin inhibits the neuron and its neighbors. This gives you feelings of contentment.

This is what makes the difference between pleasure and happiness, dopamine and serotonin.

Imagine your brain is like a happy button that gets pushed when you see fun and exciting things, like watching TikTok. This button releases a special juice called dopamine that makes you feel super happy. But if you keep pushing the button too much, your brain might get used to it and not feel as happy anymore. It’s like eating too much candy – your tummy might not like it after a while. So, watching lots of exciting stuff can make your brain want even more exciting stuff to feel happy, and that might make it a bit harder to enjoy regular things like playing outside or reading a book.