Neuroscience

Brain cells decide on their own when to release pleasure hormone

In addition to smoothing out wrinkles, researchers have found that the drug Botox can reveal the inner workings of the brain. A new study used it to show that feedback from individual nerve cells controls the release of dopamine, ...

Neuroscience

How gamblers plan their actions to maximize rewards

In their pursuit of maximum reward, people suffering from gambling disorder rely less on exploring new but potentially better strategies, and more on proven courses of action that have already led to success in the past. ...

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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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