What Is Dopamine

(Last Updated On: March 20, 2019)

Dopamine : How It Works In The Body

Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter that plays a major part in a number of roles in both animals and humans, it is released by the brain and helps with various functions including:

  • Memory
  • Movement
  • Behaviour
  • Feelings of Pleasure and Reward
  • Sleep
  • Moods
  • Attention


This vital brain chemical needs to be maintained at optimum levels in the body, should it be present to excess, or in a deficient quantity, several diseases and/or conditions could develop. 

Its not uncommon for anyone with abnormal dopamine levels to develop addictive behaviours, as well as neurological diseases such as Parkinsons.

Where Is Dopamine Produced

Dopamine is made in the dopaminergic neutrons in the VTA (Ventral segmental area) of the middle brain, the substantial nutra pars compacta and the arcuate nucleus which is situated in the hypothalamus at the base of the brain.

dopmine production

The Effects Of Dopamine


Movement is regulated by a part of the brain called the basal ganglia. This requires a certain amount of dopamine to be present to enable it to function correctly.

Occuring through the action of dopamine receptors D1-5, Dopamine increases the actions of the direct pathway inside the basal ganglia. 

Should the brain become deficient in Dopamine, movements can become uncoordinated and delayed. 

On the other hand, should there be an excessive build up of dopamine in the brain, it can cause the body to produce unwanted, repetitive movements such as shakes and ticks

Pleasure And Reward

dopamine pleasure

Dopamine is also known as the ‘feel good hormone’. it is released during feelings of pleasure or euphoria. 

This can be while having sex, enjoying food, laughing, listening to music, seeing your favourite team win their game.

Some recreational drugs can also trigger dopamine release in the brain, this occurs in certain areas that include the prefrontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. 


Dopamine can be affected by the use of cocaine and amphetamines. As an example, cocaine is  dopamine transporter blocker that reduces dopamine uptake, ultimately increasing the dopamine levels in the body.

Amphetamines also increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, but by a different mechanism. 

Amphetaine molecules are similar to dopamine in their makeup so they can hitch a ride on dopamine receptors and enter the presynaptic neurons. 

Here they force out stored dopamine molecules increasing levels in the brain and boosting feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.


Dopamine is crucial to our working memory, especially in the pre-frontal cortex part of the brain. This effect is controlled by a very delicate balance and should dopamine levels decrease or increase, the memory can suffer.

increase attention with dopamine


Dopamine is also key to our focus and our attention. Our vision triggers a dopamine response in the brain, which helps us to focus and pay attention to whatever we are looking at. 

Experts agree that dopamine is responsible for the short term memories that stay in our mind for ease of recall. 

Should dopamine levels reduce, our memory and attention span can reduce. 

Long term reduced levels of dopamine, particularly in the prefrontal cortex area has been linked to ADHD.


Dopamine works in the frontal lobes of the brain to control the passing of thoughts, facts and figures from one part of the brain to another. 

Using D1 and D4 receptors, dopamine is responsible for memory, attention and problem solving, any reduction in levels can lead to reduced performance in these areas.

Social Function

As with our ability to think, learn and remember, too much, or insufficient dopamine levels can effect our social behaviour. 

Low Dopamine levels can lead to anxiety and social phobia, leading sufferers to become withdrawn, anti social and apathetic.

Too much dopamine can cause social problems, sufferers can suffer from mania and become hyper sexual.

affects of dopamine

Pain Processing

Dopamine plays a key role in our central nervous system, should levels reduce it can lower pain threshold and increase cases of pain, especially in diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.


Dopamine is one of the key neurotransmitters used in the control of feelings of nausea and vomiting. It does this by interacting in the chemoreceptor trigger area of the brain.


Dopamine plays a crucial role in many aspects of our cognitive functions and overall well being. Maintaining its levels is paramount to our moods, memory, focus and attention.

Dopamine is one of the key neurotransmitters that can be maintained by the use of a quality nootropic supplement. 

These contain clinically proven nutrients that feed and nurture the brains cognitive functions, reduce oxidants, repair cellular damage, and ensuring the correct release and functioning of all key neurotransmitters.

The information in this website is for advice and guidance only. It is based on my own intensive research into nootropics and my personal experiences with certain products. It is not intended to replace professional medical advice, or to diagnose or treat any health conditions. All rights reserved.