I was intrigued by the link made between athletes and processing of emotion presented in class. Upon further investigation, I had a little trouble finding any empirical evidence to further support the idea that weren’t either very general or published in the 1970’s. However, I did find some new and interesting research on Runner’s high. Turns out that investigation into the neural substrates involved in Runner’s high have not received much attention in the past. However:
“this study provides first in vivo evidence that release of endogenous opioids occurs in frontolimbic brain regions after sustained physical exercise and that there is its close correlation to perceived euphoria of runners. This suggests a specific role of the opioid system in the generation of the runner’s high sensation. In a more general view, it might also be assumed that opioidergic effects in frontolimbic brain structures mediate not only some of the therapeutically beneficial consequences of endurance exercise on depression and anxiety in patients (Morgan 1985) but also the addictive aspects of excessive sports, where injured athletes continue their training in spite of detrimental consequences to their health (Chapman and De Castro 1990). Such phenomena will have to be addressed in future studies focusing on not only physical exercise, mood, and reward but also interactions between endogenous opioids and other neurotransmitter systems and modulators, particularly dopamine and endocannabinoids (Dietrich and McDaniel 2004; Gardner 2005).”
What a nice lead-in to our discussion on how the reward system influences behavior… to be continued with The Pleasure (and Pain) of Maybe!