Suddenly, the neurotransmitter is the target of research into happiness, attention, extroversion, self-confidence, and goal-direction."Dopamine, how do I love thee? D., a professor of neuropharmacology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.
Excitement about dopamine is now so high, says Koob, that the danger is not underestimating its reach but exaggerating it: "Today's gig is that dopamine is a kind of everyman's neurotransmitter because it does everything.
We use the term "falling in love" even though the first giddy days of a new romance feel buoyant, free from gravity, as if some perfectly placed wind were boosting us skyward.
That sense of becoming airborne is so unforgettable that years later we may recall it longingly and wonder why relationships now seem so bound-to-Earth.
And what creates that outlook--the dopamine itself, the receptors that process dopamine's chemical messages, or some combination of the two?
These are questions researchers are still sorting through.
We may even gaze on our partners with some dissatisfaction, measuring them against that lost intensity.
Dopamine now seems everywhere in the brain: running through four main brain pathways, picked up by five different types of receptors—each with several subtypes, many still just being defined.Basically, dopamine brightens and highlights our connections with the world around us, says David Goldman, Ph. D., the Yale University psychologist who made famous the whole notion of reinforcement.D., a neuro-scientist with the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. According to the story—cheerfully shared among dopamine researchers—the famed psychologist's class once decided to experiment on him."You are trapped in your body," is the way Koob describes it.In addition, dopamine appears to influence attention and the ability to concentrate.