Dopamine is often characterized as the tonic of pleasure because plenty of rewarding stimuli — food, drugs, sex, exercise — trigger its release in the brain. But a decade of research has shown that when stimuli use becomes compulsive, the related dopamine release becomes deficient in a brain region that involves reward and behavioral control. A study from the University of Amsterdam suggests that release of the neurotransmitter dopamine is increased in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help return it to normal levels. Researchers believe that since dopamine is important for reward-motivated behaviors, these changes may explain why DBS is able to restore healthy behavior in OCD patients.
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