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Genetic Reason for Your Gadget Habit

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the well-lookie-there dept.

239

You can't help it if you need to get the latest gadgets. Well... perhaps it's not quite such a serious medical affliction, but scientists have found a genetic basis for some folks' burning desire to have the latest and greatest. There's even a name for it - neophilia. Apparently, some of us have elevated levels of a cellular enzyme, monoamine oxidase A, and are more in need of stimulation from new things.

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239 comments

neophilia huh? (5, Funny)

habedak (969855) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705010)

Neophilia is wanting new things...
as opposed to Necrophilia, which is wanting things that aren't really 'fresh' anymore.

Re:neophilia huh? (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705039)

Thanks - I was just biting into my ham roll then.

Re:neophilia huh? (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705155)

"ham roll" = ???

Re:neophilia huh? (4, Funny)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705284)

"ham roll" = ???

A roll with ham in it? A round bready thing containing sliced processed pig? Or are you just querying the lack of chutney, pickle, mayo etc. in his luncheon choice?

Re:neophilia huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705344)

Brock Sampson: That you have sex with dead people right?

Dr. Orpheus: Phile. Necrophile. A Necromancer can bring the dead... to life!

Re:neophilia huh? (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705479)

It does sound like a sexual practice. "Oh wow, that new gadget is soo cool. I love that new gadget. No, not the way you're thinking, I mean that I want to have SEX with it."

without being blatently sexist (2)

vestigial.organs (961371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705029)

... do levels of this chemical spike when women enter their closets?

Re:without being blatently sexist (1)

dubmun (891874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705168)

Yes, this pretty much explains any kind of consumerism... it's an excuse for our society to exist. Finally!

The culture of victimhood (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705033)

So now geeks join the culture of victimhood - "it's not my fault, its my [genes|society|enviroment]!". Congratulations on finally joining the mainstream!

Re:The culture of victimhood (1)

dubmun (891874) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705124)

Soon we'll be forming our own AA/NA/NAACP...

Re:The culture of victimhood (5, Funny)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705232)

Forget non-profit organizations...I'm going for a government grant to study this disorder.

Of course, if I'm doing important research like this, I'm going to have to have access to the latest technology. I'll need a hefty grant.

Re:The culture of victimhood (1, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705145)

Exactly! I couldn't have said it better myself. I agree, this is totally pathetic.

What's next? We get special disability handouts from the government at the expense of your fellow tax payers?

Re:The culture of victimhood (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705333)

OMG dude, I have been waiting for this for so long. I mean of course I knew it deep down inside, we all know it deep within our inner geek. But still -- now I can pay my analyst to tell me it's really not under my control!

Re:The culture of victimhood (5, Insightful)

wwest4 (183559) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705373)

Maybe there's a name to describe predictable knee-jerk reactions.

Tell me, does your concept of free will allow for constraints? If not, I challenge you to breathe water. And I don't want to hear any crap about how your genetics predispose you to breathing air.

Oh dear God (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705034)

I'M NOT FIRST!!!!!!

Who cares? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705042)

The scientific details are unimportant. The real question is, as it's not my fault, who can I sue over this?

Re:Who cares? (1)

everett (154868) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705158)

Your parents, they gave you the neophilia genes in the first place. In fact, I think I might sue your parents too.

Re:Who cares? (0)

szrachen (913408) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705239)

Yeah!!! I want a new war in Iowa!

Wait a second! What's wrong with Iowa? No, no, please no new war in Iowa.

Re:Who cares? (0, Offtopic)

everett (154868) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705402)

There's nothing wrong with Iowa persay. I just don't like corn. Corn scares me, all those ears and such. Did I mention they have a lot of corn in Iowa? Corn. Oh, plus the people there tend toward zealotry and extreme right-wing views, but that afflicts most of the mid-west and southern states. "Gotta hate them queers, it just ain't right" as my bigotted grandmother would say.

Is there a cure? (4, Funny)

e1618978 (598967) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705043)

Is there a way to cut the levels of this enzyme? I need to get my wife to stop
filling my house with crap from wal-mart and sams club. It isn't gadgets, but
I imagine that the need for new stuff would be filled via other means for
people that don't like electronics.

Re:Is there a cure? (2, Informative)

brianf711 (873109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705110)

You can decrease its activity with MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), also known as anti-depressants.

Re:Is there a cure? (5, Funny)

Golias (176380) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705131)

No, see... That's called "decorating", and it's a normal behavior for human females. Those plants, wall hangings, and curios are supposed to serve the purpose of making your house look like somebody other than a Spartan warrior is living there.

The alternative to having all that "crap" in your house is a divorce, after which you will probably never have to worry about a home cluttered by possessions again.

Re:Is there a cure? (4, Informative)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705135)

There are ways to cut the levels, MAOI drugs which inhibit MAO's from breaking down the monoanime neurotransmitters (dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin) are pretty powerful anti-depressants. Unfortunately they have some very unfriendly reactions with other meds as well as side effects and increased health risks. MAO's do so much more than just make you want new stuff.

Re:Is there a cure? (4, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705228)

Is there a way to cut the levels of this enzyme?

yes! I have developed a brand new, never seen before cure for this affliction. I bet you want some now, don't you?

Re:Is there a cure? (1)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705266)

Just be glad its the WalMart or Sam's. It could be worse. Take her to some of the upscale places and turn her loose. See how fast the plastic melts.

Re:Is there a cure? (2, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705419)

The monoamine oxidases are responsible for breaking down certain neurotransmitters in the body (monoamines like adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin). I assume (read the article, not the paper) what this research is getting at is that this certain form of monoamine oxidase A is more effective in breaking down neurotransmitters- perhaps dopamine in particular, as dopamine is an important factor in the body's "reward" system.

I'd imagine that such "neophiliacs" have a sort of addiction to novelty then- they get a brief high from acquiring or experiencing the new hotness, then crash down into a depression when it becomes the old and busted. The process is likely very similar to what is found in gambling addiction- in most people, it's (nearly) harmless fun, but in a select few, it becomes a ruinous compulsion. In the case of a severe "gadget addict," I'd bet living in Akihabara would be like a gambling addict living at a casino.

As to what can be done in severe cases, pharmaceutical antidepressants have been used to modulate neurotransmitter levels for decades, and in particular, the class known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors seem tailor-made for this.

But... (0, Redundant)

jarg0n (882275) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705044)

Is there a cure??? Or since its a habit, a patch?

Re:But... (2, Insightful)

uioreanu (554486) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705109)

I hate to live in a world where every human trait sounds like a disease. If we could cure our need for new, and turn boredom into ever-lasting happiness; how long before we find a cure at being human?

Life would be great if... (5, Funny)

BluePariah (987431) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705046)

you had neophilia and amnesia at the same time. Imagine the pleasure of discovering your new right hand every 20 seconds.

Hmmmm, been there, done that. (4, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705048)

Apparently, some of us have elevated levels of a cellular enzyme, monoamine oxidase A, and are more in need of stimulation from new things.

I keep telling my girlfriend that, but she just won't go for it.

Re:Hmmmm, been there, done that. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705226)

What's this girlfriend talk!?

Geek license revoked.

Hmmm (4, Funny)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705053)

I have a strange urge to possess a gadget that can measure the level of this "gadget disease" in people.

ADD of the new millennium (4, Insightful)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705064)

Before it was, tell all the parents their child has ADD/ADHD and that's why he/she wont sit still or pay attention in class. Now doctors will be saying that the kids need all this new stuff and throw temper tantrums because of their genetically elevated monoamine oxidase A and not that they are spoiled/greedy/etc.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (5, Insightful)

rtobyr (846578) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705088)

Perhaps it works the other way around. Children who are spoiled and greedy DEVELOP elevated levels of monoamine oxidase A as a result.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (3, Insightful)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705194)

Very possible, I could see constantly exposing a developing brain to every new (toy, gadget, thing) might cause changes similar to that seen in drug addicts. There would be elevated MAO to get rid of the excess dopamine which was being released and then when the stimulation of new toys was cut off a resulting excessive down regulation of dopamine would cause some type of withdraw symptoms. This is somewhat of a strech, just as being addicted to video games and the internet is a strech, still its plausable.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (2, Interesting)

Frag-A-Muffin (5490) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705252)


Perhaps it works the other way around. Children who are spoiled and greedy DEVELOP elevated levels of monoamine oxidase A as a result.

Hmmmmm ... seems to be backwards for me then. I didn't have much growing up, parents immigrated from Vietnam with kids in tow. Toys were scarce as a kid. But as an adult with money to spend, I find myself compensating for my lack-of-toys childhood.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (1)

Krazy Nemesis (795036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705322)

I'd have to agree. My childhood never involved having much in the way of new toys. My parents brought a computer home once (a hand-me-down from work), that was it -- and it was only 'new' to me. Since reaching adulthood (actually after I got out of the military), however, I've found the strange desire to compensate for my childhood.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (1)

bigtimepie (947401) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705277)

Nah... we were always poor and I was always deprived, but I still drooled over new shiney gadgets.

I could see how it could be conditioned as well, though.

Re:ADD of the new millennium (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705436)

Whatever the reason, they're going to need lots and lots of very expensive, and very patented anti-monoamine oxidase A to make them fit in at school.

Coincidence? (1)

eonblu (932134) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705353)

Of course! How did we miss it? The ADD/ADHD meds are secretly designed to increase monoamine oxidase A levels! All the pieces are comming together...

Henchman: Sir, we have discovered a problem with the medication.
Evil Boss: Problem? Didn't we prove that it helps to prevent distractions?
Henchman: Well, yes. But, now none of these kids want the shiny new toy.
Evil Boss: My God! Do you have any idea what this will do to Christmas season?! Something must be done about this.

Implications go beyond gadgets (5, Interesting)

rtobyr (846578) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705065)

I wonder if people with elevated levels of monoamine oxidase A are more inclined to engage in infidelity, citing the need for a variety of partners.

Re:Implications go beyond gadgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705097)

"Honey, I told you about my 'condition' when we met! You knew this might happen!"

"Honestly Harold, with the neighbor's cat?"

"Well, it seemed like something new and exciting at the time..."

Opposite (5, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705075)

I guess the opposite would be retrophilia - the love of buying other people's junk off eBay, while dreaming of hitting the jackpot on Antiques Roadshow, or browsing antique shops while dreaming of making a fortune on eBay.

The Lab test is simple! (1)

rangeva (471089) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705078)

Mouse labs that wanted the "New Cheese - Extra Holes" or chose the new "Super mouse Wheel" over the plain one, presents this gene, thus humans who present this specific gene suffer from Neophilia!

Biologists say... (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705080)

Biologists have traced this enzyme all the way back to the stone age, when people who had it would always need to have the latest and greatest club and stone hammer.

Divorce Court (1)

dafz1 (604262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705083)

Can anyone else see this as a response to infidelity:

"I had to cheat on you. I have an elevated amount of monoamine oxidase A, and I needed someone new."

Response: "I don't care. I'm still taking half your crap."

This would also explain... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705090)

the popularity of pr0n.... I mean 99% of the stuff is 99% the same except for the haircut or the camera angle... but for a genetic addiction to new, apparently the grass is ALWAYS greener.

Grow out of it (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705096)

When I was younger I would have fit the neophilia profile. I had to have the latest video game system and all of the games, the latest stereo, latest everything. I've noticed that over the past 10 years or so I've become less interested in technology in general. Mind you I'm still heavily engrossed in technology every day (I'm a programmer), but I'm finding that I just don't care anymore. Maybe its just the stress of it all, I don't know. Has anyone else experienced this?

Re:Grow out of it (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705200)

I can relate to that. It used to be that I would upgrade my computer around every six months, had to have the latest pda or gadget and the newest game consoles. A few years ago I went through a bout of unemployment and couldnt afford the new toys. I sold my ps2 and my xbox (kept my gamecube) and stopped upgrading my computer. Unemployment was short but two years later I still havent bothered to replace anything. I did finally upgrade my computer but only after my boss bought a buch of parts and told me to upgrade my machine as a reward for completing a big project early and under budget. I evidently weaned myself from the addiction, I just dont care much anymore.

Re:Grow out of it (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705224)

Yes, I found that once I grew up and actually had to pay for my own gadgets, my desire for said gadgets declined steeply.

Re:Grow out of it (2, Interesting)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705249)

Exactly the same here. I was for years the proverbial early adopter in all areas of tech toys - consoles, PCs, home cinema etc. Now I just look at it and think "what's the point?". I figured it was down to becoming a parent and having A) less disposable cash (OK, no disposable cash) and B) realising there are far more important things in life than shiny stuff. Mmmmm shiny stuff..... Where was I? Oh yes, I also noticed I started to feel *worse* after buying new stuff as it added little to my life except more clutter and left a hole in my pocket making me regret the purchase almost as soon as I walked out the shop.

Re:Grow out of it (4, Insightful)

93,000 (150453) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705360)

I have the same feelings, and I think it's mainly a matter of realizing the whole 'perceived reward vs. actual reward'. I used to always long for gadgets, etc, just KNOWING that they would make my life great and imagining how cool/happy/satisfied I'd be if I only had one. Whatever the item is, no matter how great, it's never what I build it up to be in my head. The high of having this new shiny thing wears off in about a day -- the credit card balance sticks around quite a bit longer to rub it in.

After having this happen a time or four, I've started really questioning what a product will bring me. For example, I've been really wanting to get an iPod to replace my $15 diskman that plays mp3 cds.

The Perception: said iPod would be new and shinny and cute and hip and hold 20,000 songs and I'd have it with me all the time and it would vastly improve my life.

The Reality: I'd only wear it to mow my fucking lawn, just like I do now with the diskman.

I think I just saved about $300.

Re:Grow out of it (0, Flamebait)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705471)

When I was younger I would have fit the neophilia profile. I had to have the latest video game system and all of the games, the latest stereo, latest everything. I've noticed that over the past 10 years or so I've become less interested in technology in general. Mind you I'm still heavily engrossed in technology every day (I'm a programmer), but I'm finding that I just don't care anymore. Maybe its just the stress of it all, I don't know. Has anyone else experienced this?

Yes, I've experienced it - there's even some names for it. Names like maturity and growing up.

humanity is overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705114)

to reduce *every* human behavior to materialistic causes is just another dehumanizing tendency of the technological society.

OH Shiney! Have we got a medicine for you. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705143)

Well, it's hard to make much out of a blurb pulled from an abstract of a foreign language journal but Monoamine Oxidase [wikipedia.org] is a chemical well known to be involved in neurobiological functions, famously, depression.

The problem lies in the Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, drugs designed to block degradation of the enzyme. These drugs interact with many foods, including beer, so they are of little clinical utility to the affected slashdotter.

It would have been nice to get a bit more detail. Much of the time, these are studies with 7 people and whose discussion tends towardsd over arching claims (in hopes of more grants). I have no idea if this research is of any decent scientific quality or not.

Make the Old; New again (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705151)

That's why I program and run Linux.
I can continually put new stuff on my old hardware
and keep my money from those that would create
monopolies to take it away.

Re:Make the Old; New again (1)

anothy (83176) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705321)

see, i was thinking "this is why people program and run linux: so they can re-invent stuff that happened twenty years ago". writing something and thinking it's new is more fun than doing the research to find an existing (often superior) solution from way back when.

Ah.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705170)

and are more in need of stimulation from new things.

So that's why she left me and the kids for that new guy. And to think, she blamed it on my need for new gadgets....

Not a flaw, a feature, really (3, Insightful)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705172)

This is a good thing and is part of all of our natures. Without it, we would never have left the caves, invented the spiky club, fire, beer or the refrigerator (in which you keep your beer).

Looking for an antidote to the enzyme (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705190)

So life would be cheaper. However one shouldnt overdrinkdrink the antidote as the love of antiques is more expensive.

Is there a word for people who like slightly used items?

Re:Looking for an antidote to the enzyme (1)

Spritzer (950539) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705310)

Is there a word for people who like slightly used items?
It's commonly refered to as ebayphilia.

Re:Looking for an antidote to the enzyme (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705329)

Bargain Hunters

One Gene to Rule Them All !! (1)

stun (782073) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705192)

Next time, they will discover The Gene that makes us think
the genes are the primary driving force for all our behaviors?

Re:One Gene to Rule Them All !! (1)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705285)

Well you have the nature camp and the nurture camp. Most researches believe behavior is some combination of the two not some mutually exlusive system. There is much evidence for both sides, just look at any set of seperated identical twin studies.

I thought it was more or less age and not genetics (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705208)

For some reason I had always thought it was my age that made me like computers and technology, but I'm getting fairly old but the desire to buy gadgets and new technology isn't going away.

I'm buying more and getting more than I was a kid mostly because of my greater income.

However, my parents really weren't into gadgets that much so I don't know if this is passed on or just learned as a kid.

However, most kids are pretty quick to learn computers so perhaps if you can the "neophilia" bug as a kid that your mind develops in a certain way (from playing video games and messing with computers) that you end up always being like this.

Please flip the bit (1, Offtopic)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705235)

If just one gen to flip, please flip my girlfriends bit. She has the burning desire to buy new clothes and shoes.

Or... (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705248)

Or is the fact that a lot of people put their wants before their needs. We live in a time where society puts the value of what they have, how much of it, and how new is it before everything else. Example. Have you ever looked at the people in the supermarkets that use food stamps. A lot of them, but not all, have their nails done, their hair professionaly styled, name brand clothing/atire, more makeup on their face than they really need, a brand new gas guzzling SUV every year or two, etc. Last time I checked, all of that was quite pricey. I know I can't afford it and I make a decent living. But oh ya, though I buy Target brand clothes, inexpensive shoes, get my hair cut at the local barber, tell my wife to wear less makeup because its expensive, and so on and so forth, I can use the money I earn to buy food for my family.

I love having the latest and greatest tech gadgets and computer components. But one needs to realize there are more important things in life and I think that notion is disappearing.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705374)

Maybe the reason those people can afford all those shiny toys is because they buy their food with foodstamps ...

So they finally did it... (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705257)

They gave a new name to the "OOOH SHINEY!" syndrome that every geek has.

I'm all for it as long as they come up with a disability program that helps us. You know, add's an additional $50,000.00 a year to your income for supporting the shiney habit or offering an insurance card that allows us to buy the items with a $20.00 co-pay to offset the costs of collecting new shiney objects with blinking lights.

Although I can see it now... "Im sorry sir but you have already bought a HD-DVD player this month on your plan, you will have to wait until next month. you can buy a new CD changer or GPS though with your monthly allowance."

Medication (1)

blacknblu (988181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705283)

I can't wait for the newest drug to treat this affliction. Come on Pfizer, don't leave me hanging...

Re:Medication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705410)

They do.. They are called "Monoamine oxidase inhibitors" or MAOI's [anxiety-an...utions.com].
   

A genetic basis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705298)

A genetic basis for some a burning desire to have the latest and greatest? What, apart from the genetic basis of having a Y chromosome?

Excuses (1)

RyoShin (610051) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705352)

Does this mean I can get a doctor's note telling my boss to get me the latest and greatest LCD monitor?

Disease or Fact (1)

Chrononium (925164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705361)

I think it's interesting that when a genetic basis for behavior X is discovered, it is regarded as a disease or "condition." Why is it not chocked up to the mysterious concept of personality? Or culture? Why exactly is this something to be cured or diagnosed? Perhaps this is how that altogether strange concept of microevolution works. Some folks just gotta be discoverers and adventurers.

Experience Junkie (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705372)

I always called myself an experience junkie. I get a total high from anything new, even if its bad. I.e. breaking my leg would actually be interesting to me as I'd never done it before. for about the first 2 or 3 days, then the novelty would wear off as it does with pretty much everything else.

So does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15705413)

... my PPO will cover my PS3???

My girlfriend will be so excited to know (1)

Antifuse (651387) | more than 7 years ago | (#15705472)

It's not my fault! At last, vindication! "Honey, I HAD to buy that new digital camera. You understand." :)
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