Scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine have recorded real time changes in dopamine and serotonin levels in the human brain that are involved with perception and decision-making. These same neurochemicals also are critical to movement disorders and psychiatric conditions, including substance abuse and depression. Their findings are published in the Oct. 12 edition of the journal Neuron.
“This study provides us a unique window into the human brain that has been inaccessible until now,” said principal investigator Kenneth T. Kishida, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology and neurosurgery at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist Health. “Almost everything we have known mechanistically about these neurochemicals was from work done in preclinical animal models, not from direct evidence from humans.”
Having a clearer understanding of how these brain chemicals actually work in people may lead to improved medications or treatments for disorders like Parkinson’s disease, substance use disorder or depression, Kishida said.