Commentary on the Dopamine Hypothesis for Schizophrenia


The primary problem with dopamine hypothesis is similar to other medication intervention involving lack of targeted specific effects on a particular brain region and the side effect issue due to brain interconnectivity and feedback loop systems. As I understand, while the beneficial effects of dopamine reduction in the mesolimbic area of functioning is desirable, (reducing “the positive symptoms” of schizophrenia and psychosis), but it is countered by reduction in the frontal lobe and substantia nigra (lower brain) areas causing undesirable side effects, due to reduction of dopamine in these systems, where a higher level of dopamine functioning is desirable. From the brain-behavior relationship perspective, one can potentially develop therapeutic psycho-social interventions demonstrating modification of chemical neurotransmitters, including dopamine, in the brain systems, if more research and funding are directed towards it. This is a desirable advocacy perspective, I believe, which many ISPS members may hold. Any psycho-social intervention will also have to deal with balancing social control and individual choice and sense of freedom. In any event, research in both biological and psycho-social intervention demonstrating targeted beneficial effects with minimum side effects profiles needs to be pursed, as interventions targeted in reducing human distress will have multi-discipline involvements.  Each discipline needs to focus on its own case of advocacy of effectiveness to the mental health consumers and public at large.

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