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Neurotransmitters, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 350

Essay

In the human brain, the neurotransmitter Serotonin is produced and discharged from neurons. Particularly, these neurons can be found at the base of the brain known as the raphe nucleus and this area influences attention, motivation and emotion (Cooper, 1991). From this area, serotonin travels through the synapses and binds to receptor cells, thereby initiating a series of events that converts the signal from outside the cell to intracellular signal within the recipient cell. Several cellular functions are activated thereafter and may result either in inhibiting or stimulating the neuron that received the signal, thus exhibiting how serotonin can influence thinking, behavior, and mood states and providing a link between serotonin and alcohol abuse.

There are several evidences that link serototin and alcoholism, brought about by analyzing serotonin levels in both non-alcoholics and alcoholics and through studying drugs that block transporters and receptors of serotonin. Exposure to alcohol affects the transmission of serotonin in the brain, particularly by modifying the serotonin levels in the synapses and the activities of its receptor proteins (Pettinati, 1996). Abnormal levels of serotonin may then lead to alcohol abuse as several studies have found out that alcoholics have lower serotonin levels in the brain. Furthermore, SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) and serotonin receptor agonists may decrease alcohol consumption in both humans and animals although these treatments have been found to be only moderately effective (Naranio & Bremmer, 1994).

It must be taken note of that serotonin is merely one of the several neurotransmitters that is affected by alcohol consumption. GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) and Dopamine also play a key role in mediating the effects of alcohol. Most of the effects of alcohol are not brought about singly by serotonin, but rather, it is through the changes in the interactions between these neurotransmitters.

 

References:

Cooper, J.R. et al. (1991) The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, 6th Ed. Oxford University Press, New York,

Naranjo, A. & Bremner, K.E. (1994) Toward a Molecular Basis of Alcohol Use and Abuse. B. Jansson, H. Jornvall, U. Ryberg, L. Terenius and B.L. Vallee, Eds. Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, witzerland.

Pettinati, H.M. (1996) “Alcoholism” Clinical and Experimental Research, 20, 23A-29A.

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