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Serotonin function

  1. Apr 16, 2017 #1
    I've heard serotonin to be a "feel good" monoamine and a "contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness".

    Then I came across Lövheim's cube of emotion

    And in there it shows serotonin on the x axis and when acting alone, it is shown to cause "contempt" and "disgust".

    Is this cube not correct or does serotonin cause the "good feeling" only in combination with other neurotransmitters and otherwise not?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2017 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not expert in this area, but in teaching the subject, one very point is: homeostasis. Think of a shallow pond, lots of things going on in there, on many levels.

    Lob a large rock into the middle of the pond. Not only is the area of impact severely disturbed but the shock wave ultimately affects all of the pond, with waves moving everywhere and a big turbulent area remaining visible for a long time. The pond takes a long time to return to some state close to the original, and may never recover 100% due to damage.

    That rock-in-the-pond is an analogy for dosing a brain with single a neurotransmitter or drug that alters the level of a single neurotransmitter. So, IMO, you have to understand more than just what substance A does but also how it affects B, D, E, ...Z. It requires a systemic view. There is great progress in understanding mammalian brains, but you need to get that flat statements about neurotransmitter effect on mood are not always explanatory. Or helpful. They are often just the waves on the surface of the pond, so to speak- after you lobbed a rock named serotonin in there.

    So, where did you get your information?
  4. Apr 17, 2017 #3
    Thanks Jim.
    That helps a lot. I was wanting to get a general sense what neurotransmitters do collectively. My sources on these were mainly wikipedia.
    One main thing that made sense about serotonin to me is that it is largely found in the gut, and in line with the rock analogy, it would be as if I eat too much of my favorite cake in which case, I would start finding the cake I usually like to now be disgusting. The part that surprised me is that adding other two neurotransmitters would turn this into joy so I wasn't sure how Lövheim would have come to that result/conclusion.

    I imagine all of the extremes are really just extremes and don't last long and want to come back into homeostasis, which would be somewhere in the middle of the cube?
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