WELLNESS
11/12/2014 03:56 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2014

Why People Text And Drive, Even When They Know Better

It should come as no surprise that our near-constant use of technology has an impact on the functioning of the brain. And that has a major effect on our behavior.

For example, digital devices "hijack" the prefrontal cortex of the brain, an area that scientists believe mediates decision-making, explained Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author of A Deadly Wandering.

Plenty of research reveals that technology use can have an addictive effect on the brain, which can also effect our decision-making. When we interact with our devices, we get a rush of dopamine, one of the brain's pleasure chemicals. We get so used to these little bursts of dopamine, that in their absence, we become bored.

"That doesn't have anything to do with the information that's coming in. It has to do with tapping into reward cycles in the brain that are not unlike those that drugs tap into," Richtel told HuffPost Live host Caroline Modaressy-Tehrani. "Maybe not as powerful, but similar systems nonetheless."

An addictive relationship with technology can lead us to make bad decisions about our usage, like choosing to text while driving even though we know it's dangerous.

"When we know something is dangerous, we need to have the discipline to not do it," Richtel said. "But that discipline involves something other than what is the conventional wisdom. The discipline is just to put your phone right next to you and try to resist the ping. But that proves hard for most people to do."

To be strong-minded, Richtel said, "we've got to take more active steps than the ones we're taking now."

Watch the clip above, and check out the full conversation on HuffPost Live.

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