Norepinephrine: Dopamine’s Wonder Twin

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter, the same as dopamine, which is a chemical messenger released by brain cells at specialized relay stations (known as synapses) to quickly signal one another. Due to their striking chemical similarities, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are both produced by your body, are also classified as catecholamines. It is not hyperbole to state that dopamine and norepinephrine are chemical twins and close relatives. In actuality, brain cells produce norepinephrine by combining dopamine with a single oxygen atom.

Even while you may not be aware of it, you are already familiar with another close chemical relative: adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). Your body produces adrenaline, the body’s fight-or-flight hormone, by adding a single methyl group to norepinephrine (a carbon atom plus a few hydrogen atoms). As you are undoubtedly already aware, adrenaline takes over if you are engaged in an action or feeling that causes your heart to race, your breathing to quicken, or your body to perspire more. A monkey (or human) who didn’t become frightened, riled up, and either defended itself or fled when a tiger prowled close wouldn’t survive for very long.

The brain’s adrenaline is norepinephrine, often known as noradrenaline. Norepinephrine revs up your brain in the same way that adrenaline revs up your body. When you are asleep, your brain’s overall levels are low; when you wake up, they are higher. Norepinephrine, like adrenaline, is released whenever you are under stress (joyfully delighted or pumped up on the positive side; fearful, apprehensive, angered or “stressed out” on the negative side). Remember that norepinephrine, also known as noradrenaline, has the same effects as adrenaline outside of the brain, including accelerating heartbeat, raising breathing rate, dilating pupils (improving vision), strengthening muscle contractions, and raising body temperature.

Norepinephrine is focused in your head, as opposed to adrenaline, which functions mostly throughout the rest of your body. Norepinephrine instructs your brain to prepare for action in the same way that adrenaline instructs your body to do so. The primary function of norepinephrine is to shout at your brain cells to “wake up. Right now, something really significant is about to fall. Pay close attention.

Save some love for dopamine’s modest wonder twin, norepinephrine, even if it may be all dope and sexy and hog the spotlight because of its starring role in your brain’s pleasure circuits. Dopamine is vital in ADHD because it allows your brain cells to recognise signal over noise.

Because if norepinephrine didn’t exist, we’d all be walking around like zombies—that is, if we weren’t just the extinct, dimwitted prey of prehistoric tigers.

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