Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have for the first time found direct causal links between the neurotransmitter dopamine and avoidance—behavior related to pain and fear.
Researchers have long known that dopamine plays a key role in driving behavior related to pleasurable goals, such as food, sex and social interaction. In general, increasing dopamine boosts the drive toward these stimuli. But dopamine’s role in allowing organisms to avoid negative events has remained mysterious.
The new study establishes for the first time that dopamine is central in causing behavior related to the avoidance of specific threats. The work was published today in the journal Current Biology.
“This study really advances what we know about how dopamine affects…