Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eating as a stimulus driven behavior

Eating, for normal people, is or should be a goal driven behavior. For we overeaters, eating is a stimulus driven behavior. That is one more problem we, the obese and exobese, face. I am not concerned about the overeater of normal weight.

Stimulus driven behaviors are encoded in the dorsal striatum, and we are powerless to change these. They are there, and we have great difficulty to de-encode them. We can stay in the conscious and in the present moment, or in some other locked in encoded behavior and avoid the stimulus, or falling into that particular locked in behavior, but this is not easy. That is the simple explanation of why it is so difficult to keep weight off, and why regain is almost inevitable. It is more struggle to keep the weight off as it is to lose the weight in the first place.

Stimulus driven behaviors can be as simple as liking food, and as a result, when it is available we want to eat. We are powerless over the desire. So we need to do something to dissipate the desire or we will eat. That is our life until death. So now what is to remain in the conscious, and not allow ourselves to drop into the automatic portion of the brain state, really like? Strenuous effort. What does it mean to be in the present moment full time? Strenuous effort also. Is it doable? That is the question.

Staying away from the stimulus is the obvious solution, but this may also be difficult when the stimulus are everywhere and food is everywhere. Once we are exposed to the stimulus, we need to move ourselves into the present, and conscious state and do the next right thing before we sample the goods. It is a tough assignment. Waking 24/7 attention. OK.

from SpringerLink: aka Automatic behavior; Stimulus-driven behavior,

Stimulus-bound behavior is commonly found in frontal lobe syndrome and other executive functioning disorders and is a response to stimuli in one’s environment – an externally oriented cognitive approach. For example, the behavior displayed seems to depend primarily upon available objects and subject predisposition, rather than the activation of a specific drive such as hunger, anger, sex-drive, etc. A person exhibiting stimulus-bound behavior may feel the need to use certain items present, regardless of a need to do so. The behaviors are often perseverative in nature and focus on partial information. Immediate stimulus-bound behavior often does not take into account future consequences or long-term outcomes and causes difficulty with planning, organizing, and behavioral initiative.

from wikipedia: perseverative --
In psychology and psychiatry, perseveration is the repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.[1] Symptoms include "lacking ability to transition or switch ideas appropriately with the social context, as evidenced by the repetition of words or gestures after they have ceased to be socially relevant or appropriate,"[2] or the "act or task of doing so,"[3] and are not better described as stereotypy (a highly repetitive idiosyncratic behaviour).

So how do stimulus driven behaviors develop? Well they start out as goal driven behaviors, and then the goal dies off, it outlives it usefulness, and must be changed.  So in youth we develop a goal of eating enough to grow, it becomes a stimulus goal that encodes, then we slow down, quit growing, or were eating too much to start with, and we have a problem.

Does knowing that it is a stimulus driven behavior help with recovery? Knowing that we are powerless may actually help; we know not to start and to deny the stimulus as a stimulus, we can stay in the present moment and revisit the new goal, objective, we can stay in the conscious mind space, in the present time, we can go into a different automatic stimulus driven behavior. We can name it as an unwanted stimulus and perhaps move on.

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