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Norepinephrine, acetylcholine, etc...: Man and his brain do not live by dopamine alone.

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One thing I've noticed in the focus on dopamine and its effects on cognition and emotion is the relatively scant attention given to other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and acetylcholine (although a couple of people talked about acetylcholine), which appear to play key roles as well, particularly in regulating attention, vigilance and intuition.  

 "It is now known that both dopamine and norepinephrine have essential actions on prefrontal cortical function, and help coordinate cognitive state with arousal state."
 Arnsten AF, Wang MJ, Paspalas CD. (2012). "Neuromodulation of thought: flexibilities and vulnerabilities in prefrontal cortical network synapses." Neuron76 (1): 223–39. 

Some of the SSRI class of antidepressants target both serotonin (rather, they inhibit its reuptake) and norepinephrine, and are therefore more effective for many people than the original SSRIs or the older tricyclic antidepressants.  If some people are wondering what treatment of the depressed has to do with education, suffice it to say that almost all of us experience depressed moods, and the main thing that separates us from the clinically depressed is the duration and severity of symptoms.  

There's one more thing about the role of neurotransmitters that I thought might be worth noting.  Psychiatrists treat schizophrenics with neuroleptic tranquilizers that suppress dopamine's receptors.  Does this raise questions about whether geniuses, who are often if not usually quite eccentric, might have been fortunate to have never visited psychiatrists?    

The medical profession often treats people with drugs that are very blunt instruments, and unfortunately, there are not yet any better options for treating people suffering from severe delusions and hallucinations.  As educators, we know that these neurotransmitters are endogenously produced; hopefully we can provide a learning environment that facilitates self-discovery and that provides sufficient "aha" moments to boost them to levels and in the right balance to maximize learning.

Last edited by GaryHenscheid on Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:58 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : I (Gary) replaced "target" with inhibit in third paragraph for clarity and deleted an incomplete sentence that I failed to notice in the first edit.)

2Norepinephrine, acetylcholine, etc...: Man and his brain do not live by dopamine alone. Empty Brain hormones on Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:46 pm


The most awesome neurotransmitter other than dopamine is Oxytocin.  It has many functions, like these:

- it causes emotional bonding

- it is related to and is released by nipple and utural contraction

- it causes instant hostile aggression

- it can be elicited by a human pheromone found in the heads of a certain kind of individual

So, these functions sound different, but can you figure out how they are all related?


I'm winging a wild guess Curtis, but oxytocin and dopamine are both essential for all forms of pleasure, and I'm not really sure, but oxytocin is particularly involved with intimacy and bonding, is it not?  

I haven't forgotten about your recommended reading, The Female Brain, and am hoping to learn something about how men and women differ in effects.  And just as one might expect, one of the first search results I found after searching "women and oxytocin" were these differences in a preface to an article by By ELLIE ZOLFAGHARIFARD in the The Daily Mail (July 29,2014):

"How the 'love hormone' doesn't always live up to its name: Oxytocin is found to make women friendly but men more competitive

  • Study suggests behaviour differences are combination of culture and biology
  • In both sexes, oxytocin improved their ability to interpret social situations
  • Previous research by the same group found that oxytocin is also released in negative social interactions such as jealousy"

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2557013/How-love-hormone-doesnt-live-Oxytocin-make-women-friendly-men-competitive.html#ixzz38pihvVgB 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Last edited by GaryHenscheid on Tue Jul 29, 2014 11:19 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added quote marks to material from The Daily Mail article.)

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