Shopping, buying encouraged by brain activity

There’s a reason why you go to the store for one item and come back with five or six. Shopping boosts your mood and makes you feel good.

That’s the conclusion of Gregory Burns, author of “Satisfaction: The Science of Finding True Fulfillment” (Henry Holt).

Burns writes that “recreational shopping” and “retail therapy” have a real chemical reward.

Shopping triggers release of brain chemicals that give you a shopping high. It’s genetic. With Christmas coming soon, science has new information that could help you keep spending in line and help you understand the highs of buying the lows of buyer’s remorse.

Blame your buying partly on the brain chemical dopamine. It plays a crucial role in our mental and physical health and is associated with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Dopamine is released when we experience something new, exciting, or challenging.

Shopping can be all of those things, according to Burns, an Emory University neuroscientist. Dopamine is like a fuel injector for action, he writes. It urges you to seal the deal, even though you may never use the item. Once you have it, however, you get a let-down feeling.

To make better shopping decisions, experts recommend:

* Buy only what’s on your list.

* Use cash or debit cards to keep you from buying things you can’t afford.

* Window-shop when stores are closed or your wallet is at home.

* Don’t shop with friends or relatives. The novelty puts you at a higher risk of buying things you don’t need.