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Introduction
Genetic factors work by exerting an influence on the
hardware of the brain. This means that structural or
biochemical abnormalities should be detectable in the
brains of those with schizophrenia. In particular, research
interest has focused on the action of certain
neurotransmitters or chemical messengers, such as
dopamine.…read more

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Dopamine
Dopamine is a brain chemical that increases the
sensitivity of the brain cells that promote the individual's
awareness of events around them when in danger or
aroused or under stress. If, however, the individual's
level of brain activity is already highly aroused, then the
effects of additional dopamine activity may trigger the
onset of a psychotic state, such as schizophrenia.…read more

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The dopamine hypothesis
There are Many millions of neurons densely packed into
brain structures, that have tiny gaps (synapses) where
neurotransmitter substances carry messages across.
Neurons that have dopamine as their transmitter
substance (Dopaminergic neurons) are overactive in
individuals who exhibit schizophrenic symptoms. The
dopamine hypothesis suggests that `excessive activity' in
the dopamine neurons leading to increased dopamine
production and limited absorption of existing dopamine is
associated with schizophrenia.…read more

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The dopamine is important because it was found that
phenothiazines (neuroleptic, anti-psychotic drugs that
reduce schizophrenia symptoms) work by inhibiting
dopamine activity. Also the drug L-dopa (synthetic
dopamine) can have symptoms similar to schizophrenia.…read more

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Support
Randrup & Munkvad 1966- behaviour similar to that
found in those suffering from schizophrenia was induced
in rats by administering amphetamines. The effects were
reversed by neuroleptic drugs.
Falkai 1988 - looked at the increase of dopamine in the
left amygdala.
Owen 1978 - increased dopamine receptor density in the
caudate nucleus putamen.
Wong 1986 - shows in live patients using pet scans that
the dopamine receptor density in the caudate nuclei is
indeed greater in those with schizophrenia than in
control. This however is not supported in subsequent
studies.…read more

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