You can feel your heart beating a little bit faster; you can feel your palms getting a little clammy, and while you can’t tell as much, your pupils have dilated.
These are all uncontrollable reactions to a stimulus of excitement, and we each have our unique threshold for how much (or little) of this amazing chemical reaction we can take.
It’s why some people go skydiving for kicks, and it’s why some people love watching horror movies, and it’s why some people take to the roulette wheel or the blackjack table at an NJ online casino.
The science of excitement is addictive, and it’s why some risk-takers and daredevils must keep pushing themselves to the next level to get that dopamine hit.
Gaming is something that hits the spot when it comes to setting alight our reward responses in our brain but without the downside and fear of worrying about what might go wrong. Those plagued with doubt ahead of a skydive, for example, find themselves in a whole different psychological space as the plane carries them higher to the desired altitude.
The call of the unknown
There have been entire scientific research papers written about the human need for fear of the unknown – that quality that gets us on the edge of our seat, whether by watching a George Romero movie or spinning the roulette wheel.
One of the curiosities of the human mind is that we like to induce anxiety in ourselves from time to time – but this isn’t self-sabotage. Fear creates adrenaline, which leads to a surge of energy and increased capability that is witnessed whenever somebody performs a feat of heroic strength or bravery in the most dangerous circumstances.
You might not know it, but we love to play ‘edge of the seat’ games because it creates a similar psychological state as mentioned above – a desire for adrenaline-inducing activities is no coincidence.
Risk and reward
Feelings of excitement and anticipation are driven in the brain by the release of dopamine – a neurotransmission signal that tells us when we can expect a reward.
When we are playing roulette, for example, and we have placed our bets, and the wheel is spinning, our cerebral core is stimulated – all our energy is focused on getting that next win.
It’s a concept that horror movies have tapped into with great skill – you know those moments when you’re expecting something terrible to happen – the creaking floorboards, the deep breath of the main character as they open that door. Our brain releases dopamine here because we’re anticipating the pay-off; maybe we’re about to see the movie’s evil force revealed for the first time.
Dopamine is released in all manner of situations, from observing a person we find attractive to smelling freshly baked bread. It’s also commonly released when watching movies and playing games in which we have no idea what will happen next. Given that dopamine is linked to feelings of happiness, you can see why so many seek out these simple pleasures.