Dopamine is linked to everything interesting about metabolism and the brain. It is a neurotransmitter that is essential in the control of the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, and helps to regulate our emotional responses and physical movements.
The human brain holds over 100 billion neurons (brain cells). Only 20,000 of these contain dopamine. We need dopamine in the right place, at the right time, in the right amounts.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It helps to regulate our ability to control our body movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but also to take action to move toward them. It is associated with competition, aggression and impulse control.
We get dopamine by eating a lot of meat and fish, which give us precursors to dopamine. Too little production of dopamine during development can cause retardation. A deficiency in adulthood could result in Parkinson’s Disease (at any age). The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation seeking, and those who receive this form may be more prone to addiction.
Dopamine will motivate us, and it is the driving neurotransmitter in competitive behaviors. When our dopamine machinery isn’t working properly, problems ensue (not surprisingly).
In the movie, “Awakening.” the doctor found that by giving people in mental hospitals who were mentally ‘asleep” dopamine they would be able to function normally for short periods of time.
Too much dopamine in the wrong place can make you psychotic. Illicit drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamines, can dump loads of dopamine, which can cause euphoria, aggression and intense sexual feelings.
A recent study published in the journal Science indicates the caudate region of the brain, located just below the neocortex, is the dumping ground for particularly large amounts of dopamine during working memory training. This research substantiates the findings of other studies that associate working memory training with the release of dopamine to particular areas of the brain.
The five-week study involved ten young men viewing a computer screen three times a week during which they were presented with a series of 7 to 15 letters for 45 minutes at a time. The control group received no training. Their assignment was to remember the last four letters in the sequence in correct order. A gradual improvement of working-memory performance was shown in the trained group as compared to the control group.
Immediately after the memory training, participants were given PET scans. The results showed an increased release of dopamine in the caudate area of the brain during testing and immediately afterward. An untrained test, taken after the training that also required working memory, was given that showed elevated levels of dopamine as well. These results strongly suggest that memory training generally improves working memory.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory expert. As a memory speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.
Memoryzine.com – Dopamine Released After Brain Training Improves Working Memory Performance: http://memoryzine.com/2011/09/11/dopamine-released-after-brain-training-improves-working-memory-performance/
Psychology Today — Dopamine: http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/dopamine
Wikipedia — Working Memory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_memory