Wow, there are over 50 known neurotransmitters, and I’ve just written short bios on eight of them. Notice any similarities between their functions? Besides acting in concert with one another, many of these chemicals also serve dual functions as hormones, which get released as the body responds to external stimuli.
Acetylcholine – movement, memory, neuron communication
Dopamine – movement, memory, information flow to higher levels of the brain, “feel good”
Epinephrine aka Adrenaline – “fight or flight”
Norepinephrine – memory, neuron communication, alertness, focus
Melatonin – circadian rhythms
Serotonin – “feel good”, calming, appetite, mood, transmission of nerve impulses
Endorphin – “feel good”, pain killer, stress reliever, positive feelings
Cortisol – memory, learning, “fight or flight”
So what can you do to keep your neurons firing at their peak? Well, it’s no different then what you can do to keep your overall body performing at its peak. Stay tuned for the next post, Food for Thought.
By the way, resources for my posts on neurotransmitters include web pages, which are usually referenced in the particular post, and the books by Sprenger and Jensen listed in the column to the right.
[Sometime in 2009 I accidentally deleted the lengthy list of books on the right. Sufficiently bummed about it, I have yet to attempt a redo. The Sprenger and Jensen books referred to above are: How to Teach so Students Remember (Sprenger), Learning & Memory: The Brain in Action (Sprenger), and Teaching with the brain in mind (Jensen).]