Be Thankful For Your Dopamine
Dopamine is a compound that is usually regarded as the chemical that produces the feeling of happiness. The neurotransmitter is responsible for the brain’s pleasure center, not only regulating our emotional responses, but also enabling us to recognize rewards and take action to achieve them (Gibbons 2018). In fact, dopamine is such an important chemical in humans that its presence might actually be one of the leading causes of the development of language and cooperation between human individuals: the greatest fundamental difference between humans and apes. The article “Dopamine may have given humans our social edge over other apes,” by Ann Gibbons, examines how an increase in dopamine and a decrease in acetylchlorine, a neurochemical linked to dominant and territorial behavior, are the keys to why humans have developed such an advanced social abilities.
Mary Ann Raghanti, a biological anthropologist and researcher, compared the basal ganglias of 38 individuals from six different species: humans, tufted capuchins, pig-tailed macaques, olive baboons, gorillas, and chimpanzees, focusing on the difference in levels of specific neurotransmitters that were present in the brain of these primates when they were alive. What she discovered was that both humans and great apes had increased levels of serotonin present compared to other primates, and that humans also had significantly higher levels of dopamine compared to great apes. This development in humans ultimately allowed for cooperation between individuals, giving us the upper hand in both hunting and gathering, as well as in mating. It is possible that this evolution was the start of humans taking over the world.
Original Article: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/01/dopamine-may-have-given-humans-our-social-edge-over-other-apes
Posted by: Grace Houghton
Blog 1, Group 1
Blog 1, Group 1