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Are We Hardwired?The Role of Genes in Human Behavior$
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William R. Clark and Michael Grunstein

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178005

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178005.001.0001

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The Role of Neurotransmitters in Human Behavior

The Role of Neurotransmitters in Human Behavior

Chapter:
(p.137) 8 The Role of Neurotransmitters in Human Behavior
Source:
Are We Hardwired?
Author(s):

William R. Clark

Michael Grunstein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178005.003.0008

Everything known about human behavior suggests it is regulated entirely by the human brain. Brain cells communicate with one another, and with other cells in the body, through small molecules called neurotransmitters (NT). NT are released by neurons, and are picked up by targeted cells through NT receptors (NTR). One place to look for a role of genes in human behavior is the genes controlling NT and NTR. Subtle changes in either of these molecules could have profound effects on behavior, and indeed scientists are beginning to correlate specific mutations in these genes with behavioral alterations. Knowledge of the pathways involved in NT function has allowed development of drugs that modulate these pathways up or down. The NT glutamate and its receptor are critical in learning and memory. A class of drugs called SSRIs (Prozac; Zoloft) can regulate the flow of the NT serotonin throughout the brain, affecting disorders such as depression and impulsivity.

Keywords:   neurotransmitters, neurotransmitter receptors, SSRIs, serotonin, glutamate

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