Adam Kepecs is an assistant professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York whose work focuses on the way human beings make decisions. Having earned his PhD in theoretical neuroscience, Kepecs has always been interested in the complexities of the human mind.
In his brief speech, Kepecs discusses the effects of addictive drugs on the natural dopamine systems in the body. He explains how dopamine neurones are activated when one's expectations are violated. Using the example of chocolate ice cream, Kepecs describes neural expectations. After a certain amount of time, the brain will learn to expect the flavor of the treat and dopamine neurones will no longer be released. With addictive drugs, one's brain will not learn to expect the pleasure. According to his research, addictive drugs release additional dopamine, hijacking the neural system.