Ventral striatum blues

Posted by – November 7, 2008

Not really my week, this: I broke my bicycle and the laptop in a minor accident. I wanted to take the bike for repairs in a shop in Töölö and my only computer was now my desktop at home, so I decided to try to coexist with the dog for at least a day.

Fast forward to tonight. When I went to bed the dog decided for some reason to stick to my side at all times so I could maximally enjoy its odour, nightly movements and general dogginess. Eventually I tried to shift the dog but it just lazily growled at me. Some ancient part of my brain said: “We have a 1000% weight advantage over this elderly female dog. If it is growling at us for wanting to sleep in our sleeping place, we should show it what’s what.” What this ancient brain-part didn’t understand is that things just don’t work like they did in the stone age anymore. The dog is in fact higher in social status than me – hell, it eats better food than I do. It would be impossible for us to do anything about the growling other than to back down, my frontal lobe said.

This caused my ventral striatum, which assigns emotional reward and punishment for social standing, to go berserk. It is old school like my lizard brain and started RRRAGING at what it couldn’t understand. Violent urges and negative emotions began to boil at a high heat in the dark places of my soul.

I guess the most productive thing would have been to cause the stone age parts of my brain to somehow grow up to the modern world, but that seemed to be a rather large undertaking in the circumstances. I decided to (make like my pants and) split before the factions of my brain did from each other, so I rode back to Herttoniemi at four in the morning on my wounded bike which I’m going to have to take back to town for repairs tomorrow.

Of course, to my girlfriend this isn’t so much an epic struggle between the dog and my ventral striatum as me being a whiny bitch who is terrified by living with a dog for a couple of weeks. But what you gonna do.

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