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

Researchers Identify Why Favorite Songs Make Us Feel So Good

By Christopher Bergland on November 22, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists have pinpointed why the songs we love give us intense pleasure.
Y Photo Studio/Shutterstock

The Nine Ingredients of Great Sex

By Michael Castleman M.A. on November 15, 2017 in All About Sex
It's not that difficult to enjoy great sex. Just incorporate these nine elements into lovemaking.

Here’s Why You're Addicted to "The Bachelor"

By Jen Kim on October 24, 2017 in Valley Girl With a Brain
Do you accept this truth? Love is not the reason you're tuning into reality television.

Digital Distraction: Internet and Smartphone Addiction

The Internet and smartphones have been adopted in the U.S. at a faster pace than any technology since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and we can't seem to stop using them.

How Does Coffee Help Alleviate Depression?

Coffee may help alleviate depression by preventing inflammation to the brain and by making dopamine signaling in the brain more effective.

How Brands Addict Us

By Douglas Van Praet on September 24, 2017 in Unconscious Branding
Brands are built to let you down and leave you wanting more

Schizophrenia in a Vial? The Story of Ketamine

A back-of-the-shelf anesthetic induces all the symptoms of schizophrenia—but only in adults. What does this reveal about brain development and the nature of schizophrenia?

Rewire Your Burned-Out Brain

By Judy Willis M.D., M.Ed. on September 18, 2017 in Radical Teaching
You can rewire your brain to reverse burnout symptoms and boost your optimism, pleasure, and positive expectations.

They Won't Stop Because They Can't Stop: Part 2

“It was like watching a movie, one where you know something bad is about to happen to the main character, and you hope that somehow he escapes danger." James B.

How Can Jobs, Housing, & Friends Aid Remission?

By John F. Kelly Ph.D. on September 12, 2017 in Addiction & Recovery 101
What effect do jobs, housing, and friends have on the brain of individuals in recovery from addiction?
Judy Tsafrir, MD

Copper Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms

By Judy Tsafrir M.D. on September 11, 2017 in Holistic Psychiatry
Could copper overload be the cause of your depression, anxiety, ADHD, and poor immune function? Copper toxicity is a treatable condition, but you must identify it first.

Why Is My Phone So Addictive?

Your phone triggers dopamine and oxytocin and relieves cortisol.

Cause and Cure of Eating Disorders?

How the language of Eating Disorders has changed. Understanding causation and recovery has shifted. Options and Opportunities for greater understanding
adamkuylenstierna/Twenty20

Why Socializing Drains Introverts More Than Extroverts

There are some very real differences between introverts and extroverts, and these differences come down to how they respond to rewards.

Battling Your Inner Dragons

Some people get up and go to work. Other people have to fight a dragon to get there. Or a series of dragons—the dragons of depression or anxiety.

ADHD: A Bundle of Deplorable Problems Masked in Plain View?

ADHD: a performance deficit---significant difficulties implementing academic skills, not specifically learning them. Is ADHD over-diagnosed and stimulant drugs over-prescribed?
By star5112 (JOH_0364) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Why Do We Love to Chase?

Unpredictable rewards produce much larger pleasure than expected ones.

Why Flowers Make Us Happy

Flowers trigger the dopamine of excitement and the oxytocin of social trust. A wildflower hike triggers all the happy brain chemicals at once!

The Demisexual Phenomenon

When sexual attraction comes only after establishing an emotional connection over time...

For Millennials, One Key to Happiness

For sound mental health, Millennials should reconsider this pervasive hobby.

Wake-Up Call

How I became determined to shed light on addiction.

New Drug Valbenazine Approved by FDA for Tardive Dyskinesia

By Joe Pierre M.D. on April 13, 2017 in Psych Unseen
What is tardive dyskinesia and who should take this new medication?

Why Do Dopamine Levels Fluctuate During Migraines?

New research examines fluctuations in dopamine levels in those experiencing migraines. This research could help improve our understanding of dopamine-based treatment.

The Science of Schadenfreude

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on March 27, 2017 in The I-M Approach
Sometimes we laugh at someone else’s misfortune. We’ve all done it, even if we aren't proud of it. But once we know why we do what we do, we can choose to do something else.
Bill Davidow

Why Dogs Don’t Use The Internet

By Bill Davidow on March 13, 2017 in Psychology of the Virtual World
What we can learn from dogs about managing the internet.

The Science Behind Empathy and Empaths

As a psychiatrist and an empath, I am fascinated by how the phenomenon of empathy works. I feel passionately that empathy is the medicine the world needs right now.

The Neuroscience of Wanting and Pleasure

If you feel like you are running out of steam, it is OK! Motivation goes up and down. If the tide was high all the time, we would fail to see the beauty of calm oceans.

Chronocentrism

You can end up feeling battered by the tide of history until you know how your brain creates its neurochemical response to public events.

No, Dopamine is Not Addictive

By David J Ley Ph.D. on January 06, 2017 in Women Who Stray
Dopamine does many things, but it’s not actually a rewarding drug in your brain

Zero Motivation to Exercise? Dopamine Receptors Could Be Why

By Christopher Bergland on December 30, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Did you make a resolution to exercise more in 2017? A new study reports that D2-type dopamine receptors—not just willpower—boost or decrease the motivation to be physically active.