What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson's Disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking people, more commonly known as "risk takers."

Recent posts on Dopamine

A New Payoff to Risky Decisions

By Hara Estroff Marano on July 27, 2016 in Brainstorm
Scientists discover how facing risky decisions makes us smarter. Guest post by Shira Polan.

7 Habits of a Happy Brain

You can build new neural pathways by feeding your brain new experiences. Here's how to choose experiences that stimulate each happy chemical.

Enjoy More Happy Brain Chemicals This Summer

These simple steps will help you avoid common drags on your mood so you can make the most out of your summertime fun.

Feeding Your Brain

By Susan McQuillan M.S., RDN on June 15, 2016 in Cravings
Are you addicted to eating? Does food change your mood? It's all in your head!

3 Ways to Feel Better When a Coworker Gets on Your Nerves

When someone gets on your nerves, it’s a real thing. You can recover quickly from co-worker stress if you know these three facts about your brain chemistry.

THE Blog Your Teenager Must Read

As a parent of a teen, you know about the teen risk. Have your teens read this so they understand how their brains are wired and how to avoid their wiring for risk-taking?

5 Ways to Boost Your Mood When You Are Feeling Down

We all have moments when we feel blue. But what causes us to feel sad? How can we overcome it and feel happy?

Is Noise the Key to Artificial General Intelligence?

By Andrew Smart on June 09, 2016 in Machine Psychology
Converging evidence indicates noise plays a fundamental role in the brain.

Cannabis Use Associated With Few Health Problems in Midlife

Cannabis use in midlife is associated with surprisingly few health problems, according to a new study.

Food Addiction Is Really About the Need for Love

Obsessions about food or food addiction can often go along with an obsessive focus on relationships. When one is active, the other is dormant. Emptiness may be the cause of both.

The CODES of a Good Date

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on May 24, 2016 in On Vitality
Learn the C.O.D.E.S of a good date! Cortisol, Oxytocin, Dopamine, Endorphins, and Serotonin.

5 Instant Energy Boosters You May Not Know

Your mental energy can sag in the face of tough challenges. It’s nice to know that your brain can release good feelings while you tackle challenges.

The Selfishness of Altruism

Altruism feels good because it stimulates dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. In our quest for good feelings, we don't always monitor the results of our altruistic gestures.

Music and the Brain's Reward and Bonding Systems

By Rhonda Freeman Ph.D. on April 28, 2016 in NeuroSagacity
If we look at the neurobiology behind our emotional response to Prince, his music, and his death, it seems that there are two primary brain systems responsible.

Heavy Marijuana Use May Reduce Your Brain's Dopamine Release

A new study has identified a correlation between heavy marijuana use and lower levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine controls reward-motivated behaviors and pleasure centers.

What Horses And Genes Are Teaching Us About Addiction

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on April 08, 2016 in Good Thinking
Three genes have been implicated in addiction to marijuana. Here is how horses can help us understand what that means.

The Science of Love and Attachment

Are you in love or in lust? How can you build a relationship that lasts? What do we do when the excitement goes down? An understanding of brain chemicals can provide answers.

This Is Your Brain on a Breakup

After a breakup, you may find yourself obsessing about your ex-partner, unable to concentrate on other things, and feeling bad about yourself. And your brain may be the reason why!

Neurofeedback Illuminates Personalized Ways to Self-Motivate

Neuroscientists have developed a new method for pinpointing exactly what thoughts and images motivate a specific individual.

Expectations, Dopamine and Louis CK

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on March 03, 2016 in PreFrontal Nudity
According to the comedian Louis CK, “everything is amazing right now and nobody’s happy.” And it's because of dopamine signaling in a particularly important brain region.

A Neuropsychology of Election 2016

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on February 27, 2016 in Just Listen
Trump = Dopamine; Cruz/Rubio/Clinton = Cortisol; Sanders = Oxytocin; Kasich = Endorphin; Carson = *

The Secret to Better Date Nights

A surprising way to keep the romance alive.

Exercise for the ADHD Body and Mind

How does exercise help adults with ADHD?
Creative Magic/Pixabay

Triggering Happiness Hormones In A Society in Turmoil

By Carol S. Pearson Ph.D. on January 27, 2016 in The Hero Within
Ever feel lost, despairing, angry, and searching for answers? I have, and found some answers through learning how to trigger my body's joy hormones.

Male and Female Brains

There are really no male and female brains, pink and blue brains, Mars and Venus brains. Why do so many of us believe this then?

Dopamine and Dreams

By Patrick McNamara Ph.D. on January 08, 2016 in Dream Catcher
Dopamine is central to motivation and reward and may be central to dreams as well.

Giving Parkinson's Disease a Kung Fu Kick

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on December 08, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
Physical activity--like martial arts training--can serve an important rehabilitative role in neurological disorders. Tai chi training can give Parkinson's a good ol' kung fu kick.

Iron, Dopamine, and ADHD

Iron, a common mineral (and, paradoxically, a common mineral deficiency in humans) is important to the brain.

What Does Black Friday Do to Your Brain?

By Eva Ritvo M.D. on November 21, 2015 in On Vitality
Did you know that Black Friday is bad for your brain? Based on neuroscience, we've got the perfect way to turn Black Friday into Bright Friday.