Dopamine is one of the seven important neurotransmitters.

Dopamine produces sensations of pleasure and reward.

It is used by CNS neurons involved in voluntary movement.

An imbalance may be associated with Schizophrenia and Parkinson's Disease. It could also lead to cases of mild to severe psychosis. Several legal and illegal drugs mimic or emulate the functions of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Among these are cocaine.

Legally, artificial dopamine is prescribed as antidepressants such as Zoloft (Sertraline), Prozac (Fluoxetine), and Lexapro (Escitalopram).

In Your Own Words

  • The happy neurotransmitter
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Research

  • As stated in the definition, there are a wide array of drugs that can mimic the effects of dopamine (often causing an excessive dependence on said drug). However, research has been conducting indicating that there are also adverse effects to using drugs that are dopamine receptor antagonists, meaning the drug INHIBITS dopamine receptors from doing its job. While these drugs may inhibit the effects dopamine receptor is intended to have-- producing sensations of pleasure and happiness-- this research shows that dopamine receptor antagonists have the ability to potentially increase the memory fields of neurons in the working memory. Crazy!
  • An experiment was performed on rats to test the effects of dopamine on the limbic system and a subcortical motor area of the brain and in turn the freely moving body. Human-abused drugs such as opiates, nicotine, and cocaine were given to these freely moving rats. These drugs increased the release of dopamine in both areas of the brain and caused the rats to move excessively at periodic times. Drugs such as bremazocine and tifluadom with aversive properties had the exact opposite effects. The dopamine release was decreased in both areas of the brain and the rats had a lack of movement as opposed to spastic ones previously observed. Drugs such as antidepressants, which are not abused by humans, were also given to the rats. These drugs seemed to have no effect on the two areas of the brain being studied and did not affect the movement of the rats. This research showed that human-abused drugs tend to stimulate the dopamine receptors of the brain in some form while those not abused by humans do not.