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Why do so many programming projects get started but never finish to completion? Why do programmers hate (absolutely HATE) the boring, tedious bits about programming? Why are there so many programmers working weekends and evenings on projects for no pay? It’s because the challenges of programming generates dopamines like cocaine does.

I was expecting an article with the title “The Effects of Computer Programming on the Brain” to have covered more about how learning programming develops analytical reasoning and abstraction. I would love there to be some study out there that says what I’ve asserted for years: That learning programming, even if you aren’t ever going to use it again, will make a dancer a better dancer, a garbage man a better garbage man, or whatever. Instead this article basically says that everyone is a junkie, even the nerds. Which is okay, it’s an important point to be made. Yes, anything taken to an extreme is unhealthy and hard core coding nerds should really get out once in a while and throw a Frisbee or something.

2 Responses to “Programming is Cocaine for the Brain”

  1. Anthony

    Nice post. I can certainly agree with it, being a hobbyist programmer myself. It’s sad to see lots of people with programming skill and not using it as their primary source of income, but that’s another story.

    I remember seeing a news segment on TV about online games that stimulates the brain with dopamine such as Everquest and WoW.

    I gotta admit, it’s a good feeling to code something. Whether it’s a custom silent install of an app, custom calculator or a dynamic web page, it feels good debugging it and watching my own code execute one line at a time. At the same time, I know that either someone else has does before or some company made an enterprise-level product that does the same thing faster.

    Hell yeah, it’s addictive. I wonder if they still teach kids BASIC…


  2. Herman Groenenboom

    Hmm, doesn’t it work like that for a lot of things? Whenever you manage to understand something new (aka “learning”) the brain also gives you a shot. Maybe the effect is the same as coca├»ne in a lower form, but I don’t really like looking at it that way. I prefer seeing it as a form of feedback, addiction sounds so negative!

    In any case, let’s hope I can get my dopes up for the next couple of months. Should improve my productivity. ;)

    PS: After reading the comments on the VirtueCenter article, I understand some of the negativity surrounding it…


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