Don't know much about dopamine, don't know much about neurochemistry
September 21, 2008 2:12 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to plan activities and experiences around the stimulation of certain neurotransmitters.

So, as I read up on this notion, my ignorance of neurochemistry is becoming painfully apparent. So if this question counts as further evidence of that shortcoming, I apologize, but I'd like to run this by the hive mind anyway. Basically, my goal is to come up with a bunch of different ways to elevate the levels of adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin in my brain and in the brains around me.

What sort of activities are conducive to high production of these chemicals? Are any foods or types of music especially suitable for any of them? What sort of experiences trigger natural production of these neuortransmitters and what sort of experiences are best for keeping levels of them high?
posted by EatTheWeak to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by nitsuj at 2:28 PM on September 21, 2008

nitsuj is right: exercise is one of the most reliable ways of getting the "rush" you're looking for. Rigorous exercise produces what is known as a runner's high, a significant release of endorphins.

Other activities will probably vary from person to person, but adrenaline in particular is associated with the experience of danger. Try roller coasters.
posted by valkyryn at 3:54 PM on September 21, 2008

Excercise is the constructive answer. There are plenty of unpleasant/dangerous ways to elevate levels of neurotransmitters.

Anything that makes you frightened or aroused will raise your adrenaline levels - a rollercoaster is a particularly fun way to do it, but depending on your personality you might be able to accomplish the same thing watching Snakes on a Plane or Fox News. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Or picking a bar fight. Or bunjee jumping. Or whatever floats your boat.

Dopamine levels can be elevated by almost any pleasurable activity like eating delicious foods. It's also famously tied to drugs of abuse. In patients with Parkinsons Disease, one form of treatment is L-DOPA. I have no idea how safe taking it as a nutritional supplement is. I do know that when levels of dopamine surge repeatedly, the post synaptic neuron will eventually reclaim the neurotransmitted binding sites to try to mediate the response and it will take more and more dopamine to get a response. Bummer. This is how drugs of abuse work, and it's a problem for patients receiving treatment for Parkinson's Disease.

Actually, now that I look at the literature, it looks like you can activate both dopamine and serotonin with chocolate. Yum. I'm partial to Green and Black's Maya Gold flavor myself.
posted by abirae at 6:49 PM on September 21, 2008

Spend more time in direct sunlight. Sex, drugs, rock n' roll (any good music, it's personal). Fighting. Sky-diving. Here is a good link about foods to stimulate the production of various neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are being secreted all the time, and I would hesitate to seek their release directly. Instead, focus on activities that will bring health, happiness and excitement.
posted by sophist at 6:51 PM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

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