Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Alcohol, dopamine, and emotion

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Dialectical therapy
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Overview[edit | edit source]

We hear many different things about how alcohol affects our brain but what happens once the whiskey works its way through your bloodstream and hits the control center behind your eyes? In this book chapter, we are going to discuss the role of dopamine in emotional responses to alcohol consumption and chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout that body that controls emotions.

What is Dialectical theory?[edit | edit source]

Figure 1: An illustration showing dopamine pathway.

Dopamine is an extremely famous neurotransmitter working in the brain. It helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It enables us to see rewards, and take action to move towards them, and also helps regulate movement and emotional responses. It is usually released during pleasurable situations, which motivates individuals to seek out more pleasurable activities. The pleasurable activities may include food, sex and several drugs, that are stimulants of dopamine release in the brain, in particular in areas such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex. Dopamine is also a chemical that controls the central power for all the activities of the brain, and it plays key role behind most of our actions and interpersonal relationships. Dopamine is very important for our brain, the deficiency of dopamine can result in Parkinson’s disease. Low level of dopamine activity in the brain can make individuals prone to addiction.

Dopamine and emotions[edit | edit source]

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Emotional states[edit | edit source]

  • Reward and associated emotional states

Positive and negative emotions[edit | edit source]

  • Overlap between brain substrates of positive and negative emotions

Relapse[edit | edit source]
Figure 2. Represents psychological effects and addiction of dopamine and different neurotransmitters.
  • Exposure to stress resulting in drug seeking and relapse.

Affect of alcohol on dopamine[edit | edit source]

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 Alcohol directly affects the brain chemistry by altering the levels of neurotransmitters[edit | edit source]

  • Alcohol can affect both Excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters.
  1. Excitatory neutrotransmitter- Glutamate
  2. Inhibitory neurotransmitter- GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid)

Stress-Induced Reinstatement of Drug Seeking and Relapse.[edit | edit source]

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Dopamine down-regulation[edit | edit source]

  • It significantly reduces activity in the dopaminergic reward system and thereby appears to reset the threshold for activating the reward system.

Dopamine theories of addiction[edit | edit source]

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Dopamine theory[edit | edit source]

  • The dopamine theories of addiction is often referred as "Hedonic model of addiction".

Dopamine-independent Reinforcement of Addictive Drugs[edit | edit source]

  • This includes evidence that alcohol and other drugs can produce their reinforcing through mechanisms that are independent of DA (van Ree et al., 1999).

Research[edit | edit source]

  • Focusing on the involvement of neurochemicals and neurotransmitters systems to see the reinforcing effects of drug addiction. It includes neurotransmitters such as Opiods , glutamate and GABA ( Gumma-aminobutyric acid),nor-adrenaline, serotonin and cannabinoids (Goodman, 2008)

Quiz questions[edit | edit source]

Here are some example quiz questions - choose the correct answers and click "Submit":

1 What is dopamine responsible for in human body?

Pleasurable award

2 The sedative effects of alcohol are linked with its impact on which neurotransmitter?


For more information, see Help:Quiz.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

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See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Psychology Today. (2018). Retrieved from

NEUROBIOLOGICAL RESEARCH ON ADDICTION. (2009). Retrieved from$File/Neuroscience%20of%20Addiction%20Report.pdf

Salazar, A., Salazar, A., Minchew, M., Ruotolo, L., Salazar, A., & Smigiel, D. et al. (2018). CogniFit's Blog - Health, Brain & Neuroscience. Retrieved from

Sayette, M. (2018). The effects of alcohol on emotion in social drinkers.

T. Kienast. (2018). Retrieved from

Wacker, J. (2017). Effects of positive emotion, extraversion, and dopamine on cognitive stability-flexibility and frontal EEG asymmetry. Psychophysiology, 55, e12727.

What is Dopamine and What Does it Do?. (2018). Retrieved from

External links[edit | edit source]

For example: