Dopamine isn't "the pleasure chemical"

Vaughan Bell is one of the best neuroscience writers out there. In a piece at The Guardian, he explains what, exactly, the chemical dopamine is doing in our brains and why we do it a major disservice by associating it solely with addiction.


  1. I gather from the article that it would be better to say dopamine is linked to excitement – positive or negative – rather than pleasure. Has there been any research on dopamine levels in people who are “high strung”?

    1. Well, meth is basically dopamine psychosis.  I’ve never met a meth head, but the dish is they’re kinda high strung. You didn’t hear it from me. 

    2. What I’m gathering is it’s basically the “Do it again” chemical. Which sounds like why it’s surging in PTSD patients exposed to the sound of battle – they’re constantly primed for fighting.

      “That felt good, I should do it again” is a concious thought process. Dopamine is about stuff that happens without your higher brain functions input to try to *make* you do it again.

  2. I got as far as “The Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters…” and then I packed it in. ‘Kardashian’ is a toxic referent. The poison is finding out what the poison is.

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