Ever heard of dopamine? There’s a good chance of hearing people talk about this chemical.
It’s typically known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter primarily because of its link to pleasure and reward responses.
It’s the chemical behind that’s behind our dreams and deepest secrets.
So what is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s synthesized in some regions of the brain from L-Dopa.
Essentially, we produce this chemical when we consume foods that contain amino acids including tyrosine and phenylalanine.
It’s important to note that some symptoms are likely to occur when a person’s levels become too high or low.
High dopamine levels can lead to schizophrenia and cocaine addiction while low levels are associated with Parkinson’s disease.
But the big question is, “what are the effects of dopamine?” Join us as we explore just about everything you need to know!
• Dopamine Boosts the Anticipation of Pleasure
First off, whenever we come across a rewarding stimulus, the brain releases more dopamine and this pushes us to seek out the fun or pleasurable activity.
For the most part, pleasurable experiences or moments like sex, games, eating tasty foods and even drugs can stimulate the release of dopamine.
It’s however important to note that dopamine doesn’t mediate pleasure; instead, it enhances the expectation of pleasure in humans.
The bottom line; you enjoy most of these pleasurable activities because of dopamine.
• Dopamine Improves Memory and Learning
The effect of dopamine in the brain helps with memory and learning.
Essentially, dopamine is crucial for long-term memory storage and retrieval.
What’s more, this neurotransmitter reminds you of important events especially those that have motivational significance.
It’s also good to point out that Dopamine plays a big role in working memory; that’s the capacity to use information from short-term memory to guide your actions.
• Dopamine Increases Your Drive
Also known as the “motivation molecule,” dopamine gives us the motivational as well as the internal drive to do things.
As we know, we usually do things because we find them to be worth it or rewarding.
What you should know is that dopamine is the chemical that’s responsible for your reward-seeking behavior — your drive is as a result of high dopamine levels.
On the flip side, people with low levels of this neurotransmitter are less likely to work for things and care less about the rewards that come afterward.
• Dopamine Controls Movement
It’s also good to point out that dopamine plays an essential role in movement.
How? Well, the basal ganglia (largest and most important sources of dopamine in the brain) is the biggest factor that comes into play here — it actually controls movement.
For the most part, the basal ganglia require high levels of dopamine to function optimally — this is just how it works.
If limited amounts of dopamine reach the basal ganglia, several different voluntary motions may become uncoordinated — this is especially common in Parkinson’s disease.
• Dopamine Increase Wakefulness
As humans, we’re more likely to stay awake when we have higher levels of dopamine in the brain — this is precisely why you’re always active during the day.
On the flip side, dopamine levels fall during the night, and melatonin takes over; as you probably guessed, this chemical makes you sleepy!
• Dopamine Processes Pain
Besides its role in increasing your urge for exciting experiences, dopamine is also released when you come across unfavorable or sad events — more like when you have an epic argument with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Finally, you should be aware that dopamine has a link to addiction.
Essentially, excessive intake of drugs can decrease dopaminergic function and eventually increase addiction to drugs.
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