The dopamine hypothesis

  • Created by: z_mills1
  • Created on: 01-05-15 11:57

AO1 - theory

  • dopamine hypothesis states that schizophrenia is caused by excessive dopamine activity - leading to characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia
  • schizophrenics have abnormally high numbers of D2 receptors on receiving neurons - resulting in more dopamine binding and therefore more neurons firing
  • Comer (2003) -> certain D2 receptors play a key role in guiding attention - disturbances in this process could lead to problems thought to be found in schizophrenics i.e. attention, perception and thought related problems



  • dopamine agonist - stimulates nerve cells containing dopamine causing the synapse to be flooded with this neurotransmitter
  • large doses can cause hallucinations and delusions - characterisitc of schizophrenic episode


  • dopamine antagonist - block activity of dopamine in the brain
  • eliminate symptoms such as hallucinations/delusions by reducing stimulation of dopamine system
  • the fact these drugs alleviated many of the symptoms of schizophrenia strengthened the case for dopamine being a significant contributory factor in this disorder

Parkinson's disease

  • low levels of dopamine activity are found in those


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