I could get up and go to class. Or I could stay in bed and watch three more episodes of “Breaking Bad.”
Yep. Definitely staying in bed.
This scenario is the epitome of senior year. ‘
Vanderbilt University conducted a study to see if there was any truth to this claim. To understand their findings, we’ll need a crash course in neurology.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by your brain. When levels of dopamine are increased in certain areas of the brain, an individual experiences higher levels of work ethic.
Vanderbilt’s results showed a correlation between high levels of dopamine and levels of motivation. Students who work the hardest have the highest levels of dopamine in the anterior insula — the area of the brain associated with reward, motivation and risk perception.
Basically, the dopamine levels in this part of the brain make the “class-versus-Netflix” decision for us. The study results show that differences in dopamine levels in seniors’ brains can explain the phenomenon of senioritis.
Senior Lisa Battistone agrees that senioritis is real.
“Throughout senior year, it’s been harder and harder to motivate myself,” she said.
Battistone is student teaching for Des Moines Public Schools this semester and said that made it even harder to motivate herself throughout the fall semester.
“It’s so hard knowing you’re almost done,” Battistone said. You get a taste of freedom, but you’re not actually there yet.”
Senior Brooklyn Contreras has a different outlook on senior year.
She explained that her levels of motivation have increased this year.
“As a senior I understand how lucky I am to be getting an education at such a great university, so I have become much more focused and engaged in my studies,” she said. “I understand that the skills I am learning in courses will be important to have for the real world.”
Although she’s been more motivated, Contreras said it is a daily struggle to beat the symptoms of senioritis.
“So far I have been fighting (them) pretty well, but knowing that spring break, ‘Prelays’ and Relays are coming up, I feel like I will have to work a littler harder to not get lazy,” she said.
Using the results of the Vanderbilt study, it would appear that Battistone experiences lower levels of dopamine in the key areas of her brain, while Contreras experiences higher levels. Research is still being conducted to explain the differences of dopamine levels between individuals.