Dopamine Surge Reveals How Even for Mice, ‘There’s No Place Like Home’

“There’s no place like home,” has its roots deep in the brain. Using fiber photometry, scientists are the first to show that home evokes a surge of dopamine in mice that mimics the response to a dose of cocaine. The study demonstrates how dopamine rises rapidly in mice moved from a simple recording chamber to their home cage, but less so when they return to a cage not quite like the one they knew.

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Scientists find neurochemicals have unexpectedly profound roles in the human brain

Dopamine and serotonin are at work at sub-second speeds to shape how people perceive the world and take action based on their perception. The discovery shows researchers can simultaneously measure the activity of both dopamine and serotonin in disorders ranging from depression to Parkinson’s disease.

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Finding Right Drug Balance for Parkinson’s Patients

Parkinson’s disease is most commonly treated with levodopa, but the benefits wear off as the disease progresses and high doses can result in dyskinesia, which are involuntary and uncontrollable movements. To better understand the underlying reasons behind these effects, researchers created a model of the interactions between levodopa, dopamine, and the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that plays a crucial role in Parkinson’s disease. They discuss their findings in the journal Chaos.

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New dopamine sensors could help unlock the mysteries of brain chemistry

In 2018, Tian Lab at UC Davis Health developed dLight1, a single fluorescent protein-based biosensor. This sensor allows high resolution, real-time imaging of the spatial and temporal release of dopamine in live animals. Now, the team expanded the color spectrum of dLight1 to YdLight1 and RdLight1. The increased light penetration and imaging depth of these variants provide enhanced dopamine signal quality allowing researchers to optically dissect dopamine’s release and model its effects on neural circuits.

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Research News Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins Medicine

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Johns Hopkins Medicine Media Relations is focused on disseminating current, accurate and useful information to the public via the media. As part of that effort, we are distributing our “COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas from Johns Hopkins” every other Tuesday.

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Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence may Alter Reward Motivation

The brain responds to rewarding stimuli by increasing the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When we feel motivated, it is because our brain anticipates this dopamine reward.
The transition from early to mid-adolescence is associated with increased reward sensitivity and reward-seeking behavior, a consequence of normal brain development. This heightened sensitivity or prioritization of reward can be thought of as reflecting a greater motivation to obtain rewards. A new study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, has addressed whether drinking alcohol in early adolescence might impact the brain’s reward systems, by examining associations between alcohol initiation and subsequent changes in reward motivation while accounting for baseline scores. Differences between boys and girls were also evaluated.

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Researchers Find New Role for Dopamine in Gene Transcription and Cell Proliferation

A joint group of researchers at the George Washington University and the University of Pittsburgh have found that dopamine and the dopamine D2 receptor modulate expression via the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. This pathway is responsible for control of cell proliferation and organ identity and is implicated in cancer, thus having broad implications for health and development of new therapeutics

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