Dopamine and serotonin: Brain chemicals explained

Dopamine and serotonin are chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that help regulate many bodily functions. They have roles in sleep and memory, as well as metabolism and emotional well-being.

People sometimes refer to dopamine and serotonin as the “happy hormones” due to the roles they play in regulating mood and emotion.

They are also involved in several mental health conditions, including low mood and depression.

Dopamine and serotonin are involved in similar bodily processes, but they operate differently. Imbalances of these chemicals can cause different medical conditions that require different treatments.

Full story at Medical News Today

Using the immune system to combat addiction

According to new research, harnessing specific proteins that the immune system produces may lead to improved treatments for addiction, which is a notoriously difficult condition to treat.

In 2011, at least 20 million people in the United States had an addiction, excluding tobacco.

An estimated 100 people per day die from drug overdose, a figure that has tripled in the past 2 decades.

Addiction is a complex topic, involving interplay between neuroscience, psychology, and sociology.

Full story at Medical News Today

How dopamine tells you it isn’t worth the wait

How do we know if it was worth the wait in line to get a meal at the new restaurant in town? To do this our brain must be able to signal how good the meal tastes and associate this feeling with the restaurant. This is done by a small group of cells deep in the brain that release the chemical dopamine. The amount of dopamine released by these cells can influence our decisions by telling us how good a reward will be in the future. For example, more dopamine is released to the smell of a cake baking relative to the smell of leftovers. But does waiting change how dopamine is released?

A new study in Cell Reports by Matthew Wanat, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), sheds light on how dopamine cells in the brain signal the passage of time. Wanat’s study used a technique called voltammetry to record dopamine release in rodents trained using Pavlovian conditioning. This task used two different tones that both predicted the delivery of a food reward. One tone was presented only after a short wait while the other tone was presented only after a long wait. Wanat and colleagues found that more dopamine was released to the short wait tone. These results highlight that when dopamine neurons respond to cues, faster is better.

Full story at Science Daily