Funding for this site is provided by readers like you.
Pleasure and pain

Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour

Avoiding Pain


Dopamine is a chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) that is not very common in the brain. Scarcely more than 0.3% of the neurons in the brain produce dopamine. Nevertheless, these neurons play an essential role in many of our behaviours.

Model of a dopamine molecule

For example, they are involved in controlling the body’s movements. When some of these neurons are destroyed, the person displays the trembling characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

The opposite problem–too much dopamine in certain regions of the brain–produces the terrible symptoms associated with schizophrenia. In fact, the most effective medications for treating schizophrenia are those that prevent dopamine from binding to dopamine receptors.

Lastly, certain dopamine-producing neurons, such as those discussed here, come into play when the person or animal in question experiences desire or pleasure.

This association between our reward-seeking behaviours and dopamine is one of the most interesting discoveries of the 1990s. The more we learn about the properties of this molecule, the more we begin to perceive the complex yet essential role that it plays in all dependencies.

  Presentations | Credits | Contact | Copyleft