Neuroscience

Born to run: just not on cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive psychostimulant that induces complex molecular, cellular and behavioral responses. Despite various approaches and years of pre-clinical studies, effective, mechanism-based therapies to assist ...

Neuroscience

Study finds GABA cells help fight alcoholism

Scientists of the Higher School of Economics, Indiana University, and École normale supérieure have clarified how alcohol influences the dopamine and inhibitory cells in the midbrain that are involved in the reward system ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Meditation adapts the brain to respond better to feedback

In a new study in the Journal of Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience researchers from the University of Surrey have discovered a link between meditation and how individuals respond to feedback.

Neuroscience

Dopamine's yin-yang personality: It's an upper and a downer

For decades, psychologists have viewed the neurotransmitter dopamine as a double-edged sword: released in the brain as a reward to train us to seek out pleasurable experiences, but also a "drug" the constant pursuit of which ...

Neuroscience

Monkey gaze study shows dopamine's role in response inhibition

University of Tsukuba researchers report the importance of the brain's dopaminergic system for inhibiting already-planned actions. They trained monkeys to redirect their gaze toward targets presented on a screen, apart from ...

Neuroscience

Moving the motivation meter

Two novel drugs kickstart motivation in rats suffering from apathy and a lack of oomph, UConn researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego on Nov. 5.

Neuroscience

Dopamine primes the brain for enhanced vigilance

Imagine a herd of deer grazing in the forest. Suddenly, a twig snaps nearby, and they look up from the grass. The thought of food is forgotten, and the animals are primed to respond to any threat that might appear.

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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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