From OptimalScience

Key claims

  • Mirroring anxiety, how salience is generated:
    • Giving in to distractions trains your nucleus accumbens to label things as salient.
    • The nucleus accumbens detects salience.
    • The nucleus accumbens creates the craving upon detection.
    • The nucleus accumbens watches your response.
    • Avoidance retrains the nucleus accumbens to be less triggerable: habituation.
    • While avoiding a salient trigger, the craving level will increase, peak, and decrease as long as the avoidance behavior is maintained.
    • Further approach trains your nucleus accumbens to be more triggerable: sensitization of salience.
    • Giving in to a distraction reinforces the distractor, making it more salient for the future.
  • The reinforcement of distractors involves both negative reinforcement (relief) and positive reinforcement (enjoyment of distractor).
  • The greater the reinforcement, the greater the salience generated by giving in to distractor, so the more distracting it is the next time (sensitization).