Neuroscience

Breaking the stress and drug abuse connection

When people undergo stress, some turn to alcohol or other drugs to help them cope. Most of us, certainly, have had the experience of cracking open a beer to relax at the end of a tough day. But in cases of extreme or long-term ...

Neuroscience

Brain research reveals a circuit for cocaine relapse

Approximately 1.5 million Americans use cocaine in a given year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Many are repeat users. Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved medicinal treatments for cocaine ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Ability to control stress reduces negative impacts

In individuals, stress exposure in adolescence increases vulnerability and risk of developing psychopathologies in adulthood, such as drug addiction, mood, anxiety, addiction to gambling, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ...

Neuroscience

Optimum amount of dopamine improves cognitive ability

The 'right' amount of dopamine in the brain makes study participants better at solving certain cognitive tasks. This is the conclusion of Bryant Jongkees after experiments and a literature review. Ph.D. defence on 21 February.

Neuroscience

Altered brain activity patterns of Parkinson's captured in mice

The tell-tale tremors of Parkinson's disease emerge from abnormal activity in a brain region crucial for voluntary movement. Using a mouse model of the disease, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Brain pathways of aversion identified

What happens in the brain when we feel discomfort? Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden are now one step closer to finding the answer. In a new study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, they identify ...

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Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter occurring in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In the brain, this phenethylamine functions as a neurotransmitter, activating the five types of dopamine receptors — D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5, and their variants. Dopamine is produced in several areas of the brain, including the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area. Dopamine is also a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus. Its main function as a hormone is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

Dopamine can be supplied as a medication that acts on the sympathetic nervous system, producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. However, because dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, dopamine given as a drug does not directly affect the central nervous system. To increase the amount of dopamine in the brains of patients with diseases such as Parkinson's disease and dopa-responsive dystonia, L-DOPA (levodopa), which is the precursor of dopamine, can be given because it can cross the blood-brain barrier.

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