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Dopamine’s Effect on Adolescent Personality

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Dopamine’s Effect on Adolescent Personality

Dopamine’s Effect on Adolescent Personality Dopamine is defined as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, retina, and sympathetic ganglia, acting within the brain to help regulate movement and emotion. Researchers have become intrigued with this neurotransmitter especially its effect on the personality of adolescents. The effects of dopamine levels and the presence of certain dopamine receptors on the likelihood of adolescent alcohol consumption have developed quite a debate amongst researchers. Next, researchers have been studying the effect of dopamine on children’s personal incentive motivations, and the personality changes due to the neurotransmitter. Finally, the effect on dopamine on the personality of children diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder has been thoroughly tested. According to van der Zwaluw, Larsen, and Engels (2012), children are no longer assumed to be only influence by peers when it comes to alcohol consumption. The dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) has been found to be associated with the susceptibility of alcohol consumption. This concept has been highly scrutinized and tested, because the researchers have seemingly found a genetic disposition for alcoholism. According to Lee and Humphreys (2014), not only does the presence of the DRD4 gene raise the likelihood of drinking, but it also allocates the adolescent a positive experience with alcohol. The positive experience is associated with enjoyment, lack of guilt, and probable continued use. According to Depue, Luciana, Arbisi, Collins, and Leon (1994), the genetic factors of personality are affected by a number of neurotransmitters, but dopamine is the most closely associated with addiction. Dopamine is associated with addiction because it is released when the brain associates an action as “good.” Alcohol, though harmful to the brain, manually releases the dopamine and gives the consumer a high, or drunk in the case of alcohol. With over exposure to alcohol the brain becomes dependent on the increased dopamine leading to addiction. The fact that a genetic factor has been found to be associated with alcoholism in young adults, leads one to believe that it can be prevented or even cured. Incentive motivation refers to the energizing of instrumental behavior by anticipation of reward acquisition. According to Luciana, Wahlstrom, Porter, and Collins (2011), studies show children often find increases in incentive motivation when they reach adolescence, but children with high levels of dopamine do not receive the same satisfaction of completing a task in hopes of receiving something. The good feeling that comes with completing a task is usually associated with the release of dopamine, the same neurotransmitter released with tobacco and alcohol use. Why do children with high levels of dopamine not have increased incentive motivation? According to Dragan, Oniszczenko, Czerski, and Dmitrzak-Węglarz (2012), high levels of dopamine in adolescents can cause complacency, and lack of motivation. Patients with high levels of dopamine were said to be less responsive to the competitive portion of the testing, and more likely to give up on a difficult problem. However, people with low levels of dopamine seem to show a direct correlation of low dopamine and novelty seeking. The patients with low dopamine (ages 13-16) were 42% smokers, and 61% stated that they have consumed alcohol at least once before.
According to van den Hoofdakker, Nauta, Dijck-Brouwer, van der Veen-Mulders, Sytema, Emmelkamp, Minderaa, and Hoekstra (2012), the influence of the dopamine transporter gene (SCL6A3/DAT1) has been found to not only improve behavior in cases of ADHD, but the gene also helps regulate certain personality traits. The study showed patients administered with the gene imitating drug were able to regulate hyperactivity and focus. This finding is very important because, whether it is from an over diagnosis or a change in culture, according to Wacker, Chavanon, and Stemmler (2006) cases of ADHD have increased astronomically since its discovery. The discovery of a dopamine therapy on cases of ADHD is very promising in the fact that when compared to some of the drugs on the market it has been found that the dopamine imitating drug has far less side effects on the child’s personality. According to Gizer and Waldman (2012), quantitative genetic studies of ADHD suggest substantial genetic influences, with heritability estimates ranging from 60–90%. With a high increase in cases and a heritability rate this high; a new promising therapy with less of a chance of personality sacrifice could prove to be a revolutionary discovery.

Depue, Richard A., Luciana, Monica, Arbisi, Paul, Collins, Paul, & Leon, Arthur,. (1994). Dopamine and the structure of personality: Relation of agonist-induced dopamine activity to positive emotionality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 67. No. 3, 485-498.
Dragan, Wojciech Ł., Oniszczenko, Włodzimierz, Czerski, Piotr M., & Dmitrzak-Węglarz, Monika. (2012). Dopamine genes and sensory sensitivity as a temperamental trait: A family-based association study. Journal of Individual Differences, Vol. 33(4):205–211.
Gizer, Ian R., & Waldman, Irwin D,. (2012). Double dissociation between lab measures of inattention and impulsivity and the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) and dopamine D4 receptor gene (DRD4). Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Vol. 121, No. 4, 1011–1023. DOI: 10.1037/a0028225
Lee, Steve S., & Humphreys, Kathryn L,. (2014) Interactive association of dopamine receptor (DRD4) genotype and ADHD on alcohol expectancies in children. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Vol. 22, No. 2, 100 –109. DOI: 10.1037/a0035338
Luciana, Monica, Wahlstrom, Dustin, Porter, James N., & Collins, Paul F,. (2011). Dopaminergic modulation of incentive motivation in adolescence: Age-related changes in signaling, individual differences, and implications for the development of self- regulation. Developmental Psychology, Vol. 48, No. 3, 844–861. DOI: 10.1037/a0027432 van den Hoofdakker, Barbara J., Nauta, Maaike H., Dijck-Brouwer, D. A. Janneke, van der Veen-Mulders, Lianne, Sytema, Sjoerd, Emmelkamp, Paul M. G., Minderaa, Ruud B., & Hoekstra, Pieter J,. (2012). Dopamine transporter gene moderates response to behavioral parent training in children with ADHD: A pilot study. Developmental Psychology. Vol. 48, No. 2, 567–574. DOI: 10.1037/a0026564 van der Zwaluw, Carmen S., Larsen, Helle, & Engels, Rutger C. M. E.,. (2012). Best friends and alcohol use in adolescence: The role of dopamine D4 receptor gene. Addiction Biology, 17(6), 1036-1045. doi:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2010.00305.x
Wacker, Jan, Chavanon, Mira-Lynn, & Stemmler, Gerhard,. (2006). Investigating the dopaminergic basis of extraversion in humans: A multilevel approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 91, No. 1, 171–187. DOI: 10.1037/0022- 3514.91.1.171…...

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