Dopamine Function and its Effect

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is naturally produced in the body. It is present in the regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation and the feeling of pleasure. Dopamine stabilizes the brain activity, regulated flow of information to other parts of the brain and controls movement. It plays a major part in addiction. Since Dopamine is a chemical messenger, it is similar to adrenaline. It activates the dopamine receptors.

When Dopamine is supplies as a drug, it acts on the sympathetic nervous system. This produces effects such as blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Dopamine, however, cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Because of this, it being administered as a drug does not affect the central nervous system.

Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease lack Dopamine in the brain. To remedy that, a synthetic precursor to dopamine such as L-DOPA can be given, since this will cross the blood-brain barrier.

Functions of Dopamine

Dopamine has various functions in the brain. They are:


Dopamine is a crucial part of the basal ganglia motor loop. This means that it is absolutely critical to the way our brain controls our movements. Shortage of Dopamine causes Parkinson’s disease, in which a person cannot execute smooth, controlled movements.

Pleasure and Motivation

Dopamine is connected with the pleasure system of the brain. This means that is provides feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement which motivates us to do or to continue doing certain activities. Drugs seem to be directly or indirectly related to the increase of dopamine in the brain, and therefore are addictive in nature. However, after a while, the brain grows accustomed to the increased amount of Dopamine brought about by the drugs. Therefore, if the intake of drugs is suddenly stopped, it could have an opposite reaction such as depression.

Also, when aversive or unpleasant stimuli are encountered, dopamine is released. This suggests that it is not associated only with pleasure. Dopamine is also released when a pleasurable activity is expected to happen. This tells us that the activity does not even have to actually take place for dopamine to be released. Therefore, it could be more involved in ‘desire’ rather than ‘pleasure’.

Cognition and Frontal Cortex function

Dopamine controls the flow of information to other parts of the brain. This occurs in the frontal lobes. Disorders in this part of the brain can cause a decline in memory, problem solving and attention. Neurocognitive functions as a whole, suffer a downfall.

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