Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. This is a substance that, similar to hormones, is responsible for the transmission of signals in the human body. It is called a neurotransmitter because dopamine is important for the signal transmission of neurons, i.e. the nerve cells.
Dopamine therefore plays an important role in the central nervous system, the brain, and controls many processes there. Dopamine is produced as a precursor of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the adrenal medulla and in the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for activating the body. Dopamine fulfils various tasks in the body by binding to different docking sites (receptors) at different locations. Depending on the type of receptor, different processes are then triggered in the body.
How does dopamine work in the body?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, i.e. a messenger substance of the nerve cells, which serves for communication. It belongs to the group of catecholamines, the best known representatives of which are adrenaline and noradrenaline. The tasks of catecholamines in the body are once mobilization of energy stores.
In addition, they regulate the cardiovascular system and cause contraction of the muscles of vessels supplying internal organs. With its functions, dopamine plays a special role, namely in many vital control and regulatory processes. In the brain it is found in the cerebrum, diencephalon and brain stem.
It is not evenly distributed, but is concentrated in certain functional circuits. For example, in the so-called limbic system, which is responsible for thinking and perception. More precisely, in the mesolimbic system, which shows increased dopamine levels when feeling joy and pleasure.
This is the dopamine-mediated reward system. Among other things, it is linked to the “emotional memory” and the learning system. The second important system in which dopamine occurs is called the nigrostriatal system and is located in the so-called basal ganglia. This system plays an important role in the regulation of movement. It inhibits excessive movements of the body and explains why, for example, patients with a dopamine deficiency can only perform strongly trembling movements.