New nanosensor gives unprecedented look at dopamine release

Astronomers build new telescopes and peer at the night sky to see what they might find. Janelia Group Leader Abraham Beyene takes a similar approach when looking at the cells that make up the human brain.

New quantum material could warn of neurological disease

What if the brain could detect its own disease? Researchers have been trying to create a material that "thinks" like the brain does, which would be more sensitive to early signs of neurological diseases such as Parkinson's.

Study finds links between circadian rhythms, metabolism and addiction

A new University of California, Irvine-led study establishes important conceptual connections between the fields of circadian rhythms, metabolism, and addiction. Going beyond current studies on substance use disorders, which ...

Dopamine plays key role in songbird mating

In humans, the dopamine system has been tied to rewards and pleasurable sensations. As well as to memory and learning. A recent study from McGill University, published in Current Biology, suggests that dopamine may also play ...

A microscopic worm may shed light on how we perceive gravity

While humans rely on gravity for balance and orientation, the mechanisms by which we actually sense this fundamental force are largely unknown. Odder still, the model organism C. elegans, a microscopic worm, can also sense ...

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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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