Psychology & Psychiatry

Study shows dopamine plays a role in musical pleasure

An international team of researchers has found evidence of dopamine in the brain playing a role in the pleasure people feel when they listen to music. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ...

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.

Neuroscience

How junk food primes the brain's food-seeking behavior

(Medical Xpress)—The current epidemic of obesity in developed countries should be a warning for health officials in the developing world with newly opened markets. Food manufacturers, restaurant franchising companies, food ...

Neuroscience

Ending chronic pain with new drug therapy

A brain region controlling whether we feel happy or sad, as well as addiction, is remodeled by chronic pain, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

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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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