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From the Field: Nora Volkow

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an in-depth profile of Nora Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the accompanying video, Volkow talks about the psychology and physiology behind addiction.

According to Volkow, the impulse that drives one person to buy a chocolate bar from a bucket sitting at a checkout counter, even when she doesn't really want a chocolate bar, may be similar to the way an addict returns time and again to a substance, behavior, or activity even when he knows he shouldn't, really doesn't want to, or has vowed to steer clear. Good intentions aside, breaking patterns of addiction can be extremely difficult, and when it comes to substance addiction, the substance affects the dopamine levels in the brain—a high that addicts want to repeat.

Increased dopamine levels, alone, however, don't explain addiction. One time, in and of itself, doesn't create addiction. According to the New York Times article, researchers suggest that genetics play a role, as do changes in the brain that result from patterns of addiction.


Making Connections

If you are interested in human psychology, physiology, or neuroscience, you can use a bag of marshmallows, a bell, and a group of friends to explore similar issues of human behavior in the Enjoy It Now... Or Enjoy It Later? Understanding Delayed Gratification, project. Would you rather have one marshmallow now or two in 15 minutes? You might think you want two. But can you hold out? Don't like marshmallows? Substitute a favorite treat and put it to the test.


Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies and Autodesk for Student STEM Exploration


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Environmental conservation and energy science collide in a proposed solar power project that promises greener energy but threatens to disrupt a major migratory path for birds. Students explore with big data science.

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Think baseball is all about runs, outs, balls, and strikes? What about physics, biomechanics, and statistics? Explore the science of baseball!

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We go DIY with molecular gastronomy and family science as we make our own popping boba using the Spherification Kit from the Science Buddies Store.

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The current Ebola crisis in West Africa has already topped charts for all Ebola outbreaks in history. Medical biotechnology science projects let students gets hands-on with projects that parallel real-world research and development.

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An unusual caterpillar brings lots of "eeeews!" and one contribution to a citizen science project. Discover how anyone can collaborate on serious scientific research.

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UC Berkeley Professor Dan Garcia talks about the kind of "drag-and-drop," block-based, snap-together programming environments that are becoming increasingly popular as a way to introduce students of all ages to code.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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