Public Release:  New brain research: Hunger for stimulation driven by dopamine in the brain

University of Copenhagen

Our need for stimulation and dopamine's action upon the brain are connected, which explains why people who constantly crave stimulation are in danger of addictive behaviour such as drug abuse and gambling.

The urge to actively seek out new experiences is a personality trait that psychologists have known about for years, but up until now scientists have been unable to prove how this urge relates to hormonal activities in the brain.

Now, an international research team made up of scientists from the University of Copenhagen, University of Aarhus and University of Tokyo have been able to prove for the first time that this hunger for stimulation is greater on average among people who possess more of the gratification hormone - dopamine in the brain.

The research team lead by Professor Albert Gjedde from the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen and Doctor Arne Møller from CFIN at Aarhus University used PET scans at Aarhus University Hospital to map the areas in the brain where dopamine was active among healthy volunteers.

Measurement of dopamine showed that the test subjects who had the strongest urge to seek out new and thrilling experiences had both more dopamine in the brain and more areas in the brain where dopamine was active, explains Professor of Neurobiology and Pharmacology Albert Gjedde.

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The results will be made public (embargo until 1st February 3pm US standard time) in the leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published by the United States National Academy of Sciences.

For further information, contact:

Professor Albert Gjedde
Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology
Tel: + 45 35 32 7863 Mobile: 21 78 85 31
Email: gjedde@sund.ku.dk

Project Leader & Associate Professor PhD Jacob Linnet
Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN) and PET centre
Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital
Tel: + 45 89 49 44 05
Email: linnet@pet.auh.dk

Arne Møller
CFIN and PET centre
Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital
Tel: + 45 89 49 44 24
Email: arne@cfn.dk

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