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Neurotransmitters: The Chemicals of Action

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There are millions of

There are millions of "branching" nerves in the human brain for information to travel across.

There are millions of "branching" nerves in the human brain for information to travel across.

by Carnell Lyon, Staff Writer

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The brain is composed of constantly active nerve cells and neurons and working together to keep the body functioning and healthy. However, the electrical signals many of us know about, are only pieces of the intricate machinery that run the human brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that keep the electrochemical reactions in the brain in check, carry and transfer information, and handle all the automatic and involuntary processes in the human body.

There are two sets of neurotransmitters: excitatory and inhibitory. As the name suggests, excitatory neurotransmitters “excite” the human brain; these chemicals put the brain into overdrive, over-stimulating the autonomous processes that take place in the body. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are the opposite of excitatory neurotransmitters, keeping the brain calm and mellow.

A well-known excitatory neurotransmitter is dopamine, the “happy” transmitter. Dopamine is the chemical most associated with happiness and euphoria. Whenever you are having a really good day or you did something to be proud of, the brain’s dopamine receptors receive a higher quantity of dopamine than usual. These are also the same neurological processes that occur when someone is “high”. The chemicals in the drug stimulate the increased production of dopamine. More dopamine, means crazier trip (don’t do drugs kids).

A commonly known inhibitory neurotransmitter would be serotonin, the “chill” transmitter. Whenever there is a greater amount of serotonin compared the “happy” transmitter, a person becomes a lot more languid. When you try your best and you don’t succeed and you just give up and mope in your bed for who knows how long (I know I’m not the only one who’s been through this).

Both of these work together to keep you not so “high” and not so “low”. A stable brain is a balanced brain. However, your brain can get messed up if you are constantly receiving more of one type of neurotransmitter over another. If you’re brain is constantly over- stimulated by excitatory neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, the receptors that receive these chemicals begin to shut down. In other words, it takes more to get the same level of euphoria compared to what you were experiencing before.

Next time, you feel happy or sad, stressed or relieved, remember that these are neurotransmitters at work.

 

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Neurotransmitters: The Chemicals of Action