"Dopamine Neurons Derived in Vitro" by JulioC Benitez / CC BY 4.0

Is There Actually Science Behind ‘Dopamine Fasting’?

Nov 20, 2019

By Nicoletta Lanese

“Dopamine fasting” may be Silicon Valley’s latest wellness trend — but does this sciency-sounding fad actually have evidence to back it up?

During a so-called dopamine fast, extreme practitioners abstain from any experience that brings them pleasure, including but not limited to sex, food, exercise, social media, video games and talking, according to Vox. Some people go so far as to avoid making eye contact, chatting with friends or even performing moderately-fast movements, all in an effort to avoid stimulation, the New York Times reported.

By taking a break from sins and small pleasures, fasters attempt to “reset” the brain’s reward system, a network wired, in part, by a chemical called dopamine. After a fast, they report feeling more focused and finding more joy in the activities they’d avoided, according to Business Insider.

Despite its supposed benefits and good intentions, dopamine fasting has stirred up controversy.

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