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Brain Facts:
Neurotransmitters

 

Topic Discussion Resource

Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)

A family of protein loosely termed factors. Whereas neurotransmitters carry out signaling, neurotrophins such as BDNF build and maintain the cell circuitry, the infrastructure itself.

John Ratey, MD
Spark
p.  38

Cobra Venom

In higher animals, the cobra’s venom acts by entering a victim’s body and diffusing to the acetylcholine receptors, including those on the diaphragm muscles, which regulate breathing. The venom blocks the access of natural acetylcholine to its receptors. Since acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for muscle contraction, the resulting paralysis of the diaphragm muscles causes death by suffocation.

Candace B Pert PhD
Molecules of Emotions: Why You Feel The Way You Do.
p. 28

Dendrite

The dendrite is the receiving branch, the neurotransmitter plugs into a receptor - like a key into a lock -and this opens ion channels in the cell membrane to turn the signal back to electricity.

John Ratey, MD
Spark
p. 36

Dopamine

Essential for proper motor coordination and assists with the ability to experience pleasure. Feelings and perceptions of inability to cope are associated with decreased levels of dopamine.

 

Dopamine

Physical exercise stimulates the release of dopamine. Dopamine is the feel good brain chemical and fuels pathways for the brain’s reward / pain-pleasure systems. Levels of this critical neurotransmitter tend to fall with age.

 

Dopamine

When the eyes of a women that a man finds attractive look directly at him, his brain secretes the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine, but not when she looks elsewhere.

Daniel Goleman, PhD
Social Intelligence
p. 9

Dopamine Drugs

Dopamine is thought of as the learning, reward (satisfaction), attention, and movement neurotransmitter, takes on sometimes contradictory roles in different parts of the brain. Methylphenidate (Ritalin) eases attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by raising dopamine, thus calming the mind.

John Ratey, MD
Spark
p. 38

Endorphins

Endorphins mimic the addictive pleasure of heroin in the brain (though not nearly so intensely).

Daniel Goleman
PhD, Social Intelligence
p. 164

Neurotransmitters

Communication between neurons relies on chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are released from small areas at the end of the axon when triggered by the arrival of a spike. Every neuron makes and receives up to several hundred thousand chemical connections, called synapses, with other neurons. Neurotransmitters stick to synaptic receptors on the dendrites or cell bodies of another neuron, triggering further electrical and chemical signals. All these steps, form release to detection, can take place in a thousandth of a second.

Sandra Aamodt, PhD and Sam Wang, PhD
Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose our Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life
p. 19

Neurotransmitters

About 80 percent of the signaling in the brain is carried out by two neurotransmitters that balance each other’s effect: glutamate stirs up activity to begin the signaling cascade and gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) clamps down on activity. When glutamate delivers a signal between two neurons that haven’t spoken before, the activity primes the pump. The more often the connection is activated, the stronger the attraction becomes, which is what neuroscientists mean when they talk about binding. As the saying goes, neurons that fire together wire together, which makes glutamate a crucial ingredient in learning.

John Ratey, MD
Spark
p. 36

Noradrenalin

Assists with regulation of mood. Feelings of hopelessness are associated with lowered levels of noradrenalin.

 

Nutrients— Neurotransmitters
Tryptophan
Serotonin

The availability of a specific nutrient can dictate the levels and potency of a particular neurotransmitter. For example, brain cells need tryptophan, an amino acid in foods, to readily create serotonin, the good-mood messenger.

Jean Carper
Your Miracle Brain
p. 9

Nutrients— Neurotransmitters
Choline
Acetylcholine

Choline, concentrated in egg yolk, is required to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, critical for memory.

Jean Carper
Your Miracle Brain
p. 9

Nutrients— Neurotransmitters
Ryrosine
Dopamine

The brain makes the neurotransmitter dopamine, essential for proper motor coordination for the amino acid, tyrosine, found in high-protein containing foods.

Jean Carper
Your Miracle Brain
p. 9

Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a natural occurring hormone. Because it is build of nine amino acids, scientist sometimes jokingly call oxytocin “Love Potion Number Nine Amino Acids” or “the cuddle hormone” or, a little more seriously, the “affliative hormone.”

Oxytocin gets made in the hypothalamus, then released into our bloodstreams by the pituitary gland. It helps us like each other, and make us value being in social situations where trust, kindness, and love are mutually exchanged. You can think of it as the neurochemical basis of love, of all human attachment and bonding, and therefore of cooperation and teamwork on all levels.

Zack Lynch
The Neuro Revolution
p. 98

Oxytocin Release Another interesting thing about oxytocin: Stress actually increases its release, so a reasonable amount of stress can make a group of individuals bond as a family, a team, a company. This explains the lifelong friendships that can form among people who serve together in the military, for example. But too much stress will make people pull back from the group. Their brains will simply tell them to. Zack Lynch
The Neuro Revolution
p. 107

Serotonin

Helps shape mood, energy levels, memory, outlook on life, and the experience of joy and contentment. Unmanaged anger, fear, and sadness are associated with lowered levels of serotonin.

 

Serotonin

The feel-good brain chemical that controls sleep patterns and body temperature.

It can also lift your mood, help ward off depression, positively impact your sex drive, and increase levels of endorphins (natural morphine) in the brain.

 

Serotonin Drugs

Fluoxetin (Prozac) helps modify runaway brain activity that can lead to depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsiveness.

John Ratey, MD
Spark
p. 37

 

 


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