New research from MCB Assistant Professor Stephan Lammel challenges the long-standing presumption that dopamine exists primarily as a reward in response to pleasurable stimuli. Instead, Lammel's findings indicate that dopamine has a "yin-yang" personality and is released in response to both pleasurable and displeasurable stimuli as a means of changing neural circuits. Those changes then train the brain to either pursue or avoid those stimuli.
This new understanding of the function of dopamine can lead to new approaches in treating certain neurological disorders affected by dopamine, such as Parkinson's and substance addiction.
Image: Christine Liu