Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dopamine Regulates Motivation

I found this article to be very interesting. “The widespread belief that dopamine regulates pleasure could go down in history with the latest research results on the role of this neurotransmitter.  Researchers have proved that it regulates motivation, causing individuals to initiate and persevere to obtain something either positive or negative.”  I thought it gave pleasure that is why addicts used drugs.  Now this article is saying it can give the motivation to use drugs or anything positive or negative.
It says that: “The neuroscience journal NEURON publishes an article by researchers at the Universitat Jaume I of Castellon that reviews the prevailing theory on dopamine and poses a major paradigm shift with applications in diseases related to lack of motivation and mental fatigue and depression, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, etc. and diseases where there is excessive motivation and persistence as in the case of addictions.”  They shifted their whole way of thinking in terms of dopamine.  They are looking at a lot of diseases that will be viewed differently.
If it does not give pleasure how does it work?  “It was believed that dopamine regulated pleasure and reward and that we release it when we obtain something that satisfies us, but in fact the latest scientific evidence show that this transmitter acts to act. In other words, dopamine is released in order to achieve something good or to avoid something evil, ‘explains Merce Correa.”  You act to achieve something good. They have been studying this for the last two years.
The article says: “The level of dopamine depends on individuals, so some people are more persistent than others to achieve a goal. ‘Dopamine leads to maintain the level of activity to achieve what is intended.  This principle is positive, however, it will always depend on the stimuli that are sought: whether the goal is to be a good student or to abuse drugs’ says Correa.  High levels of dopamine could also explain the behavior of the so-called sensation seekers as they are motivated to act.” It is positive although the behavior could be bad.  You would abuse drugs or alcohol or does that fit in it? You do get addicted to alcohol just like drugs.
How can this knowledge now be used? “To know the neurobiological parameters that make people be motivated by something is important to many areas such as work, education or health. Dopamine is now seen as a core neurotransmitter to address symptoms such as depression. ‘Depressed people do not feel like doing anything and that’s because of low dopamine levels,’ explains Correa. Lack of energy and motivation is also related to other syndromes with mental fatigue such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia, among others.  In the opposite case, dopamine may be involved in addictive behavior problems, leading to an attitude that dopamine of compulsive perseverance.  In this sense, Correa indicates that dopamine antagonists which have been applied so far in addiction problems probably have not worked because of inadequate treatments based on a misinformation of the function of dopamine.”  This new knowledge changes how scientists look at a lot of things. It could help a lot although we will have to wait and see.

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