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Is Dopamine a Neurotransmitter?

Everything that happens within the human body is linked to chemical reactions. Everything we feel, what we do, the functions of our organs, and many other things. The regulation of all our physiology is from neurotransmitters and hormones. There is a crucial molecule within these processes: Dopamine. This is a fascinating molecule but is Dopamine a Neurotransmitter? To answer this question, we will have to do a great explanation, and in this article, we will explain the characteristics and functions of the hormone of happiness.

What Are Neurotransmitters?

A list of the human bodies neurotransmitters and their properties

What we call the nervous system is an extensive network of neurons, with billions of these cells. It is through this system, and these cells that our body can work correctly since absolutely all the biological processes of our body are regulated through the nervous system.

All the activities that we develop, such as breathing, running, thinking, etc. These are actions regulated by the brain that gives orders, and the information is transmitted from neuron to neuron through electrical impulses; this is called a synapse.

But how is it possible that this information is transmitted if it is well known that neurons are separated from each other? The answer is: by neurotransmitters. These chemical substances are produced by neurons when by a message they are electrically charged to convey information to a particular organ or from an organ to the brain. The types of neurotransmitters that the neuron produces will depend on the kind of message sent. In short, a neurotransmitter is a substance that the neuron releases in the space between neurons., bringing us back to the question: is dopamine a neurotransmitter?

Neurotransmitters work, as you can imagine, by transmitting something. It is not a particular message, but when released, the neuron that follows within the network of neurons knows that it has to be electrically activated and forms a specific charge depending on the neurotransmitter. The neuron that got caught will then produce the same neural transmission and so on until the path is completed. This is incredible because it happens in a fraction of a second, faster than the speed of light, since nerve impulses travel at 360 km/h.

Dopamine is one of the many neurotransmitters out there. It is a substance that only neurons produce. The strange thing about all this is how dopamine works since it sometimes acts as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter, but then Is Dopamine a Neurotransmitter?

So, Is Dopamine a Neurotransmitter?

The chemical molecular formula of dopamine- which we need to understand to enable us to discover is dopamine a neurotransmitter

Yes, is the answer, it is a neurotransmitter, and it is simply a molecule synthesized by an electrically charged neuron that transmits a message to the connected neurons.

Within physical activities, dopamine is vital in the transmission of nerve impulses in the muscles, since when the body wants to do a specific action, this molecule is released from neurons. It also has power in the functioning of the brain and the all-important endocrine system. This is where what we have said about its “hormonal character” comes in.

The Happy Hormone

This molecule is capable of regulating our mood and our behavior, and also giving the feeling of well-being and relaxation; that is why dopamine is known as the happy hormone. This neurotransmitter changes our emotional and physical behavior and can regulate the sensation and experimentation of emotions, in addition to controlling the locomotor system.

The Functions of Dopamine

Cross section through the brain showing the dopamine and serotonin pathways

There are different neurotransmissions, but dopamine is one of the top 12. Its value in the body is very significant and is essential for it to function correctly. Here we will see some of its most important functions:

  1. Circadian Rhythm – Dopamine is critical in the matter of the circadian rhythm. The proportion of dopamine that we are generating depends on the moment, this so that we stay awake or go to sleep.
  2. Vital For Memory – When we want to memorize something, this neurotransmitter acts. Dopamine can regulate if we erase something quickly or if we keep it in our long-term memory.
  3. Makes Our Personality – Dopamine influences the way we are to a great extent. People with low levels of dopamine have been shown to have better self-esteem and are calmer, while people with low levels are more fearful and easily stressed.
  4. The State of Mind – We already mentioned that dopamine is also called “the happiness molecule.” This is because it is the primary neurotransmitter in the sensation of pleasure and positive sensations such as well-being, calm, fullness, euphoria, joy, etc. The way we feel depends a lot on the production of this molecule.
  5. Learning – As we said before, dopamine has a lot of influence on our learning and memory. Without this neurotransmitter, learning would simply be impossible.
  6. Regulation Of Body Weight – Dopamine receptors are crucial since the more there are, the faster we reach the feeling of satisfaction. Recent studies indicate that many overweight people have fewer receptors, so they must eat more to feel satisfied.
  7. Creativity – Research shows that the influence of dopamine with art is very significant. Studies say that the most creative people have a lower density of neural receptors for dopamine in the thalamus. This would promote neural connections, thus allowing a greater tendency to creativity.
  8. Euphoria – Have you ever gotten on the roller coaster, and you feel happier and more euphoric going down? Well, if so, this has a lot to do with dopamine. By having strong emotions, our body produces a lot of dopamine; having these changes in the molecule after a strong emotion, we have feelings of well-being, relaxation, and satisfaction; that is why people look for this type of thing.
  9. Socialize – How we relate depends a lot on dopamine. This molecule influences so much that at very high or very low levels; it can produce alterations in behavior that can be diagnosed as syndromes or diseases, such as ADHD, social phobias, apathy, bipolarity, schizophrenia, among others.
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