Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:44 am
Occupation: HR Manager

The power of dopamine.

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:30 am

I hope that my posting questions here isn't inappropriate. I am not a teacher or a scientist, but am really struggling to find good, reliable information about how much dopamine affects behaviour. I write a blog and would rather have sound information out there, so Google eventually led me here.

I am seeking to address the notion that dopamine is so powerful that it forces or compels us to disregard our own ethical framework and behave in non-ethical ways. If there are any neuroscience people willing to answer a couple of questions, I'd be grateful. Most of the information that I've encountered has all been tied into dopamine level during addiction, but I am particularly concerned to understand how dopamine affects the non-addict in terms of behaviour.

1. Can dopamine (or any other biochemical) act as a compelling force in our behavior? Or is it simply an influence that cannot in and of itself, control or override our conscious choices?
2. I understand that L-DOPA is the 'potential dopamine store' and that dopamine itself isn't present persistently because of how rapidly it is broken down, but is dopamine released so frequently in daily life that it could essentially be considered as persistently present?
3. I am struggling to find information that compares the dopamine levels in various circumstances e.g. for clinical depression, when eating a cupcake, and in thrill-seeking sports - any idea where I could find this data?
4. Is it possible to become addicted to your own, naturally occurring biochemistry? And if it's possible, how likely would that be?

I would be most appreciative of any help - it's harder to find reliable information in the sea of 'why cupcakes are as addictive as cocaine' articles. (Yes, they're out there!)

Thank you so much for your time in even reading my request for help.



Posts: 1780
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:00 am
Occupation: Retired molecular biologist, university researcher and teacher

Re: The power of dopamine.

Postby SciB » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:36 am


Your question is a good one but not appropriate for this forum. We are experts who help young students with science fair projects and experiments. If you want reliable data on dopamine I suggest that you do a search on PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed). Reading the published scientific literature is the best way to research a topic. You don't have to be a scientist and you don't have to subscribe to expensive scientific journals. There are many open-access journals that allow you to download articles free. While some of the papers are very technical there are many that are clearly written and understandable by a nonscientist. You could also check youtube for seminars or lectures about dopamine.

Good luck!


Former Expert
Posts: 50
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:03 am
Occupation: I am recent graduate of Pacific Lutheran University. I hold a B.S. with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry. I am searching for a career in science communications or in laboratory science.

Re: The power of dopamine.

Postby caraskl » Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:06 am

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement and emotional responses, so dopamine is especially important in psychiatry. Many of the brain's reward systems involve dopamine. For example, love and drug addiction causes increases in dopamine activity. In addition, many neuromovement and neuropsychiatric disorders are linked to imbalances in dopamine. Schizophrenia is linked to abnormally high levels of dopamine, whereas Parkinson Disease and ADHD are associated with abnormally low levels of dopamine. Consequently, some antipsychotic drugs, antinausea agents, and dopaminergic stimulants correct imbalances in dopamine levels.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:42 pm
Occupation: Student 12th grade

Re: The power of dopamine.

Postby terryshere » Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:12 am

I can shed some more light onto the increase in dopamine activity due to love and drug addiction. Alcohol, drugs, marijuana, and even certain antipsychotic drugs that are prescribed for dual diagnosis cases and for mental disorders produce a dopamine imbalance in the abuser’s brain. Food addiction also has a similar effect on the brain. The excess dopamine produced gives the person a sense of well being and pleasure. This is what causes him to use again.

You will need very thorough sources only if you are working on a project or a paper. If it’s for a blog, you may go with general facts and findings that are on the net, but if you are really looking for solid data to back what you write, I’d recommend PubMed like SciB mentioned. Also, an out- of the-box- idea would be to visit a nearby addiction center. The therapists can give you a lot of advice on how dopamine levels affect behavior of addicts. I did a project on this topic, and did some research with the help of therapists at the Canada Drug Rehab, which is a center for alcohol addiction in Calgary nearby- Center for alcohol addiction in Calgary.

I’m still analyzing the stats and data, but it shows that dopamine levels of impact behavior, and addicts do behave in unethical ways because of the intoxication.

I’ll give you a heads up when I’m done with the analysis work.

Return to “Grades 9-12: Life, Earth, and Social Sciences”