All the things I could blame on my dopamine receptors! It’s fascinating to learn about the dopamine pathways and the role they play in influencing behaviour. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for how strong our habits are affected by the brain structure called the Ventral Tegmental Apparatus; the VTA is the area of the brain that gives us strong feelings of elation and desire. The nerves in the VTA trigger dopamine release which is the thing that plays a key role in all addictive behaviours. Any quick increase in dopamine levels sets off our feelings of excitement. That’s what I say,’ the dopamine made me do it!’. I’m not sure it’s a great defense but it sure seems to be true. This is why even seeing a simple cue, like the shopping bag from my favourite grass-fed beef farm Hampton Estate can trigger desire to repeat a certain behaviour (fabulous place in Puttenham, Surrey if you want ethically raised local meat). I know I am certainly capable of relapse when I read my chocolate taste score sheet (seriously I keep one). Those tricky dopamine circuits because me so much grief! So it seems that reinforcement is an important aspect of all addictive habits. The key is to stop reinforcing them. Ah simple!