Neuropsychobiology: Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin and Acetylcholine



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Mechanism of action/purpose…
Where is it found
Precursor, L-DOPA is synthesized in brain and kidneys
Dopamine functions in several parts of the peripheral nervous system
In blood vessels, it inhibits norepinephrine release and acts as a vasodilator (relaxation)
In the pancreas, it reduces insulin production
In the digestive system, it reduces gastrointestinal motility and protects intestinal mucosa
In the immune system, it reduces lymphocyte activity.
Symptoms of excess & insufficiency…
Most antipsychotic drugs are dopamine antagonists
Dopamine antagonist drugs are also some of the most effective anti-nausea agents
Changes in dopamine levels may also cause age-related changes in cognitive flexibility.
Symptoms of excess & insufficiency
Insufficient dopamine…
Nutritional building blocks
Eating a diet high in magnesium and tyrosine rich foods will ensure you’ve got the basic building blocks needed for dopamine production.
Medications
Most common dopamine antagonists (positive symptoms)
Risperdone, Haldol, Zyprexa
Metoclopramide (Reglan) is an antiemetic and antipsychotic
Dopamine Hypothesis
Patients with schizophrenia do not typically show measurably increased levels of brain dopamine activity
Other dissociative drugs, notably ketamine and phencyclidine that act on glutamate NMDA receptors (and not on dopamine receptors) can produce psychotic symptoms.
Those drugs that do reduce dopamine activity are a very imperfect treatment for schizophrenia: they only reduce a subset of symptoms, while producing severe short-term and long-term side effects
GABA Mechanism of action/purpose
Anti-anxiety, Anti-convulsant GABA is made from glutamate
GABA functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter –
Glutamate acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter
GABA does the opposite and tells the adjoining cells not to “fire”
Where they are found
Close to 40% of the synapses in the human brain work with GABA and therefore have GABA receptors.
Medications
Drugs that act as allosteric modulators of GABA receptors (known as GABA analogues or GABAergic drugs) or increase the available amount of GABA typically have relaxing, anti-anxiety, and anti-convulsive effect
Gabapentin (neurontin) is a GABA analogue used to treat epilepsy and neurotic pain.
Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates including GHB, Valium, Xanax
Serotonin
Mechanism of action/purpose
Helps regulate
Mood
Sleep patterns
Appetite
Pain
Serotonin

Serotonin
Serotonin
Insufficiency
Depression
Anxiety
Pain sensitivity
Acetylcholine
Their mechanism of action/purpose
In lower amounts, ACh can act like a stimulant by releasing norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (DA).
Memory
Motivation
Higher-order thought processes
Sexual desire and activity
Sleep
Acetylcholine
Symptoms of excess
Depression (all symptoms)
Nightmares
Mental Fatigue
Anxiety
Inverse relationship between serotonin and acetylcholine
Insufficiency
Alzheimers/dementia
Parkinsons
Impaired cognition, attention, and arousal
Cholinergic and GABAergic pathways are intimately connected in the hippocampus and basal forebrain complex.
It is not always about increasing a neurotransmitter. Sometimes you need to decrease it.
Human brains try to maintain homeostasis and too much or too little can be bad
A balanced diet will provide the brain the necessary nutrients in synergystic combinations

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