‘Happy hormone’ dopamine plays role in identifying emotions

Emotion-recognition among people with disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or schizophrenia may be affected by changes in the levels dopamine in the brain, say researchers at the University of Birmingham.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger – often known as the ‘happy hormone’ – that carries signals controlling mental and emotional responses in the brain.

Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders are known for their links with low or disrupted dopamine levels that causes those affected to struggle with a number of social skills. This is the first time, however, that a positive connection has been made between dopamine and the ability to recognise emotions in others.

In a new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, a team in the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health showed that manipulating levels of dopamine affected emotion recognition. More specifically, the research showed that while people with low baseline levels of the chemical messenger became better at emotion recognition after receiving a dopamine boost, those with higher baseline levels actually became worse.

Lead author Dr Bianca Schuster said: “The ability to recognise emotions in others is fundamental to our everyday social interactions and this is often atypical in people with neurological disorders. Our research shows that dopamine medication – even in small doses – can affect these abilities. That has important implications for fine tuning a patient’s medicine regime to ensure a balance between controlling their symptoms and preserving social functions.”

In the study, the team worked with 33 healthy male and female individuals and assessed their baseline dopamine levels. This was done by testing people’s working memory, a well-recognised proxy for dopamine levels that avoids invasive brain imaging.

Individuals were asked to gauge the emotions of a series of figures in three different video clips in two separate tests. In the first they were given a dose of haloperidol, a drug affecting brain dopamine levels which is commonly used to treat schizophrenia, and in the second they were given a placebo. The figures were seen walking, in outline only, and in three different gaits and postures, denoting angry, happy and sad emotions.

Participants with a lower working memory, and so assumed lower baseline levels of dopamine, improved their emotion recognition under haloperidol, whereas those with a higher working memory became worse at emotion recognition under the drug.

“Individuals with low baseline dopamine also slowed their own walking pace under haloperidol, and so we think the effects of the drug on movement and emotion recognition are connected,” says Dr Schuster. “It is not yet clear, however, why the drug actually impaired emotion recognition in the participants with high baseline dopamine. It’s likely that timing and movement are not the only mechanisms that are important.”

More work needs to be done to confirm whether these results predict the effects of dopamine in other emotion recognition tasks. 

Related Posts
Aston Martin debutta con la Rare DBR22 al Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance 2022
La casa automobilistica di lusso  Aston Martin  ha una lunga eredità nella creazione di ricercate auto con cabina di pilotaggio aperta, dalla DBR1 e DB3S degli anni '50 alla contemporanea ...
READ MORE
Mentalmente parlando
Festival della mente 2022, 19.ma edizione, a Sarzana il primo festival europeo dedicato alla creatività e alla nascita delle idee, dal 2 al 4 Settembre 2022 SARZANA (La Spezia) FESTIVAL DELLA MENTE 2022, ...
READ MORE
Gal Gadot, nuova ambasciatrice del marchio Tiffany & Co
L'attrice Gal Gadot ha firmato come ambasciatrice ufficiale della collezione Blue Book 2022 di alta gioielleria di Tiffany , chiamata Botanica. La collezione si ispira a tre pilastri della natura, con famiglie di design influenzate ...
READ MORE
Facebook apre bottega
La società madre di Facebook Meta aprirà il primo negozio al dettaglio fisico in assolutoLa società madre di Facebook Meta ha annunciato l'intenzione di aprire il suo primo negozio al dettaglio fisico, che ...
READ MORE
Gli alimenti che regalano energia mentale: banane, salmone, caffè: ecco tutti i cibi energizzanti per la mente che dovremmo inserire nella nostra dieta.Gli alimenti in grado di regalare energia mentale costituiscono una manna dal ...
READ MORE
#vivomediterraneo World Pasta Day
Pasta, boom di consumi nel mondo a partire dal lockdown. 1 consumatore su 4 ne ha mangiata di più, l’export sale del +25% in 6 mesi Per gli italiani la pasta ...
READ MORE
Sei modelli di unghie alla moda per la primavera
Amiamo la primavera. È la stagione in cui il tempo inizia a cambiare da freddo e scuro a luminoso e soleggiato, il che cambia lo scenario da blande e fosche sfumature ...
READ MORE
Prada apre un nuovo punto vendita permanente a East Hampton
Prada  si è unito alla proliferazione dei marchi di lusso negli Hamptons. Nel cuore del villaggio di East Hampton , Prada ha aperto venerdì un negozio permanente di 1.600 piedi quadrati situato in 2 ...
READ MORE
Umiltà 36, l’ultimo design hotel di lusso a Roma è ufficialmente aperto
A pochi passi dalla Fontana di Trevi e dal suggestivo scenario offerto dai Fori Imperiali, nel cuore della Roma più autentica, sorge Umiltà 36, design hotel sinonimo di stile, lusso ...
READ MORE
Five ways to reboot the global food economy to make it healthier for all
COVID-19 has shown how damaging ill-health can be for the economy. But it has also shown how measures that benefit health (lockdowns) can be seen as bad economic prosperity. A ...
READ MORE
Aston Martin debutta con la Rare DBR22 al
Mentalmente parlando
Tiffany & Co annuncia l’attrice Gal Gadot come
Facebook apre bottega
The mentalist
#vivomediterraneo World Pasta Day
Sei modelli di unghie alla moda per la
Prada apre un nuovo punto vendita permanente a
Umiltà 36, l’ultimo design hotel di lusso a
Five ways to reboot the global food economy