Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Ventral striatum and money walking
Journal Entry: Coinage = $1.57, 57 pennies, 2 nickels, 4 dimes, 2 quarters; Glass bottles picked up and deposited in the dumpsters = 8; Ground scores = 2, 1 nearly new t-shirt that will be washed and recycled in the MoneyWalker street-side give away program and one profressional grade 3/8” socket; Best money find = one 11 penny curb scatter followed two houses later by a two penny scatter.
Finding money this close together but apparently unrelated is called a grouping. Why is a money find of 13 cents more rewarding than the .62 cents (two quarters, one dime, and two pennies) found at the McDonald drive-through? You must ask my ventral striatum. As for me, I prefer the quarters, my ventral striatum, the brains reward center is busy during the 4+ mile urgently and intensely searching for money.
As it turns out, the ventral striatum is wired with neurons that are connected with other parts of the brain that deal with problem solving. In the MoneyWalker’s case, the problem is finding money. But there is another issue that effects the firing power of the ventral striatum—competition. When others are trying to solve the same problem and when the problem is difficult to solve, a successful coin score registers much stronger than if the coin is relatively competition free. When a problem is solved the ventral striatum is happy. (Caution, keeping the ventral striatum happy is very "addicting" and is the source of the MoneyWalker's intrinsic motivation strategy.)
Now back to the debate. Who goes walking up to McDonald drive-throughs looking for coins? Just crazy people like the MoneyWalker. On the other side, people walking along the street are always subconsciously vigilant concerning coins and money. Most people will stop, bend down, and pick up something as value-less is a modern penny; and definitely a nickel, dime, or quarter. Thus, a penny scatter along a curb will often register stronger and longer than two quarters at the drive-through as for as the ventral striatum is concerned--more competition.
At least that is my SWAG theory (scientific wild-assed guess) SWAG theory belongs to many, but one being B.B. Suran, Ph.D.. Check out his funny and informative essay.