High levels of dopamine increase focus, drive, memory retention and regulate moods.
Dopamine is the chief component of our pleasure-reward system. It gives us that “I did it!” sensation. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key contributor to motivation, productivity and focus. If your aim is to create a memorable and rewarding event, finding ways to give your audience a healthy dose is important.
The brain’s neural synapses (as seen below) flood with dopamine when we achieve a goal. Neural synapses typically fire 5 - 50 times every second. Different neurotransmitters tend to act as excitatory (e.g., acetylcholine, glutamate, aspartate, noradrenaline, histamine) or inhibitory (e.g., GABA, glycine, seratonin), while some, like dopamine, may be either.
"You are your synapses. They are who you are." – Joseph LeDoux, 2002
Goal setting and achieving is a sure-fire way to have dopamine act as an excitatory agent. It doesn’t even have to be a big or long-term goal. Set small goals or break a big one into smaller parts. When you get close to accomplishing each one, dopamine will release.
Telling people about your goal also helps you finish the task. Being realistic is another great tip to ensure success. The more accountable you are for the goal and the more accessible it is, the easier it will be to jump the hurdle and set the brain on-track for some feel-good emotional rewards.
What are other natural ways to increase dopamine levels and excite the brain?
Here are some options to include at your next event:
- Nutrient-rich foods: proteins, almonds, apples, avocados, bananas, chocolate, green tea, watermelon (it’s been dubbed the “tyrosine connection” – tyrosine is a neurotransmitter and amino acid, a building block of protein, that encourages your brain to release dopamine)
- Exercise: incorporate stretching or basic yoga poses between sessions to get your audience back on track and ready to engage (exercise improves the flow of nutrients to the brain)
- Conversely try meditation at the beginning of new sessions: this enhances our ability to learn, raises creativity and helps with relaxation (photography and listening to music count as meditative practices, too)
- The act of seeking and finding activates reward circuits: have the audience seek out clues around the room or search on their smartphones for the top five Google search results for a particular topic
By incorporating small goal setting, nutrient-rich foods, exercise and mind-stimulating activities, your attendees will be rewarded with a much appreciated, natural dose of dopamine. This in turn will leave them better able to remember what took place during the event and produce positive memory recall for the event. Which in full turn means you, the event organizer, accomplished your goal … Enjoy the dopamine-activated reward.
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