Although scientists haven’t yet found what completely causes boredom, there is research that shows patients with damage to their prefrontal cortex are more likely to become bored easily. The prefrontal cortex is also known to control our perception of time, which explains why when we are bored, we perceive time to pass more slowly.
So is it really possible to die of boredom?
People with damage to the prefrontal cortex are not only prone to boredom, but also experience greater urges to take risks.
When we experience a new situation that we enjoy, a neurotransmitter named dopamine is released into the prefrontal cortex, which triggers a response that causes us to feel excitement and joy. People who feel boredom easily may have lower levels of dopamine, meaning it takes more to trigger this response. This explains why people with a predisposition to boredom are naturally more willing than others to participate in activities that have a high risk of danger.
Of course boredom can’t cause death directly, but the link between boredom and risk-taking can lead to life threatening situations. Boredom-prone people are more likely to participate in activities involving drugs, alcohol, and hazardous sports. Other research has shown that these people are also at a greater risk of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and paranoia.
The reason we get bored is simply because we feel that the activity we are doing lacks value, either because it is unenjoyable, too easy, too difficult, or uninteresting. A tedious task may be prevented from becoming boring by thinking of it in an optimistic way; contemplate the usefulness or meaningfulness that the activity may have.