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Candice A. Ackerman

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Dopamine is a chemical that acts as both a neurotransmitter and hormone in the brain of humans and many other organisms, assisting in many activities including movement, motivation and reward, mood, attention, and learning. Dopamine works to activate five specific dopamine receptors of the brain. As a hormone, dopamine works to regulate the amount of prolactin released from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. In its chemical structure, dopamine is a phenethylamine, and is a member of the catecholamine family. Dopamine is highly associated with the pleasure-seeking system of the brain, and is released by naturally rewarding experiences like sex, food, some drugs (namely cocaine, nicotine, and amphetamines), and any neutral stimuli that can be associated with them. Studies in lab rats have come to show the use of drugs or other substances can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, which thereby increases the experience of pleasure. From these assumptions, dopamine is considered a major factor for those individuals suffering from addictions. At extremely high amounts, dopamine can produce hypomania or mania. Dopamine is also considered one of the primary neurotransmitters in contribution to feelings of joy. Activities that produce these feelings can range from completing a puzzle or eating your favorite food, to having sex or taking drugs. Dopamine is also relevant in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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