Washington, M. Todd Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
Last reviewed:October 2020
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- Release from neurons
- Role in behavior
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A catecholamine neurotransmitter (C8H11NO2) released by the brain that sends signals to other nerve cells. Dopamine (C8H11NO2; Fig. 1) is an important neurotransmitter that is synthesized by certain neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and that interacts with specific receptor sites on target neurons. It is an intermediate in the biological synthesis of two other significant neurotransmitters, epinephrine and norepinephrine, and is the decarboxylation product of l-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA). Dopamine plays a role in a number of neurobiological and behavioral functions (including motivation, memory, and movement regulation) and is active in the reward centers of the brain. Notably, patients with Parkinson's disease are afflicted by a deficiency in dopamine. Dopaminergic neurotransmission also has been implicated in mechanisms underlying schizophrenia, drug addiction, alcoholism, and pathological gambling. See also: Addiction and addictive disorders; Alcoholism; Brain; Epinephrine; Memory; Motivation; Neurobiology; Noradrenergic system; Pathological gambling
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