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Human pharmaceuticals change cricket personality

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Feeding ants dopamine might make them smarter foragers

In an ant colony, few tasks are as important as gathering food. But the desert heat can pose a challenge for an ant on foraging duty. Recent findings, publishing in the journal iScience on September 27, show how dopamine ...

Tiny sensors developed to study the secrets of brain chemistry

Nanosensors are incredible information-gathering tools for myriad applications, including molecular targets such as the brain. Neurotransmitter molecules govern brain function through chemistry found deep within the brain, ...

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Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter occurring in a wide variety of animals, including both vertebrates and invertebrates. In the brain, this phenethylamine functions as a neurotransmitter, activating the five types of dopamine receptors — D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5, and their variants. Dopamine is produced in several areas of the brain, including the substantia nigra and the ventral tegmental area. Dopamine is also a neurohormone released by the hypothalamus. Its main function as a hormone is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.

Dopamine can be supplied as a medication that acts on the sympathetic nervous system, producing effects such as increased heart rate and blood pressure. However, because dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, dopamine given as a drug does not directly affect the central nervous system. To increase the amount of dopamine in the brains of patients with diseases such as Parkinson's disease and dopa-responsive dystonia, L-DOPA (levodopa), which is the precursor of dopamine, can be given because it can cross the blood-brain barrier.

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