Parkinson’s: Dopamine (A Neurotransmitter and the Title of Many Songs)

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” Dr. Seuss

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.” Robert Frost

Introduction: Having Parkinson’s makes you know something about dopamine. Here is a brief re-introduction to this all-important neurotransmitter.

Having Parkinson’s means it gets your attention when you hear something about dopamine. The other night, I watched some random TV show, and the song “Dopamine” by Purple Disco Machine (featuring Eyelar) began playing. An unexpected event, but there are multitudes of songs titled dopamine on the internet. Many of these dopamine-titled songs are listed/described below.

Actions of Dopamine: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. In other words, dopamine is a chemical messenger. Neurotransmitters help neurons communicate from one neuronal synapse to another “targeted” neuronal synapse. So, for example, if you read this blog post over your morning coffee or tea, and as you pick up the coffee/tea container, you need dopamine to activate neurons to allow your fingers to grip, move, and aim the cup to your mouth. How the brain and body function so effortlessly to accomplish our body movements is almost magical.

Dopamine is the messenger signal that needs a docking site (or receptor) to activate the target. We have five different dopamine receptors that recognize dopamine; think of it as five other locks for the same key to open it.

Most of our dopamine is made/synthesized in the mid-brain region by dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta region and the ventral tegmental area. There are five different dopamine pathways to support or store dopamine for various physiological functions. They include Nigrostriatal, Mesocortical, Mesolimbic, Tuberoinfundibular, and Retinal Fibers. Dopamine combines with serotonin, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and other neurotransmitters to orchestrate many essential physiological functions.

The actions of dopamine are many and are described in the Table below. As you can see, dopamine’s role is not restricted to just motion/motor functions.

“Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joy, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs, and tears.” Hippocrates

Replacing Dopamine in Parkinson’s: For most folks, Parkinson’s arises when the dopaminergic neurons stop producing dopamine, which starts a cascade of events leading to both motor- and non-motor dysfunctions. Adding dopamine back is possible, but not directly as dopamine. The blood-brain barrier prevents exogenous dopamine from entering the brain, which says that endogenously generated dopamine in the brain is the preferred path for the brain to function correctly. However, the precursor to dopamine, L-Dopa (Levodopa), is allowed through the blood-brain barrier; thus, the preferred treatment option for most people (person)-with-Parkinson’s (PwP). Combined with Carbidopa, a peripheral enzyme inhibitor that blocks the conversion of L-Dopa to dopamine before reaching the brain, and you’ve got the most effective drug therapy to treat Parkinson’s (please note that there are numerous kinds of Levodopa derivatives on the marketplace for the treatment of Parkinson’s). Thus, of all of the neurodegenerative disorders, Parkinson’s has the best direct measure for therapy, namely, Carbidopa/Levodopa.

Other compounds used clinically to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
Dopamine agonists are ‘mimics’ of dopamine that pass through the blood-brain barrier to interact with target dopamine receptors. Dopamine agonists are very effective substances, although in some PwP they can promote compulsive behavior.
Monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) inhibitors interfere with an enzyme metabolizing dopamine. MAO-B inhibitors have a negligible effect in reducing the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Catechol-O-methyl transferase (COMT) inhibitors prolong the lifetime of levodopa. COMT inhibitors help with the ‘wearing-off’ phenomenon associated with levodopa.

“The problem of neurology is to understand man himself.” Wilder Penfield

The Songs of Dopamine: As mentioned in the Introduction, I heard a song titled “Dopamine.” That got me thinking, how common is it to sing/write a song about dopamine? A search through the musical database shows that 18 artists have recorded pieces about dopamine; see the figure below.

Dopamine (Purple Disco Machine song) was the first song I listened to about dopamine. Here is a recent review of the music: “Making his mark within the scene one fire track at the time, Purple Disco Machine has just released an uplifting new single titled ‘Dopamine.’ Having earned himself gold and platinum accreditations over the years, this latest production is the fifth and final installment of his forthcoming album ‘Exotica.’ Teaming up with Dutch-born singer/songwriter Eyelar, this latest track has all the right elements to get you grooving from the get-go. Combining the producers’ signature bass lines and overall funk, with Eyelar’s effervescent hooks and pop sensibilities, ‘Dopamine’ is destined for nothing other than the very top of the charts.” (Click here to read the review)

I had planned on critiquing several of these songs but just decided that was too much. So instead, I have posted several songs titled “Dopamine” by many artists. They evoke a higher dopamine power that the music may release in your natural stores. Regardless of the intent, I found some of the songs quite creative. But to the end, I review the possibility of a musical titled Dopamine by Global Science Opera.

Here is the official video for Dopamine (Purple Disco Machine song) featuring Eyelar (Included below are several versions of this song), and included are several examples of other artists performing their own songs titled Dopamine:

Dopamine, the Musical? Found this group of creative minds called the Global Science Opera. Wikipedia says the “Global Science Opera is a creative education initiative that combines science, art, technology, and education in a global network of scientists, art and education institutions and projects.” They have a song titled “The Dopamine Song.” Lyrics are included below. Intersting, very interesting.

The Dopamine Song

2. August 2022/in Music /by Janne Iren Robberstad

Refrain – All

in our body –
in between

Verse 2 – All
In between
In between
Cells in neuron system

Break down – 2 groups

Verse 3 – solo(s)
If you don’t have dopamine
You’re sad
You’re tired

Verse 4 – solo(s)
If you do have dopamine
You’re happy
Feel pleasure
Think positive
Feel good

All (or groups)

This provide you dopamine!

in our body –
in between

Hormone Pleasure
II: Happy, happy :II
(repeat and fade, while leaving the stage)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
– The Dopamine Song –
Made in 2022 for the Global Science Opera «Creavolution»
Lyrics and vocals: Teresa Nobrega, Randi Veiteberg Kvellestad, Jonas Cisar Romme
Music by Jonas Cisar Romme

Conclusions: Dopamine is all around us. As we strive to remain healthy with our Parkinson’s, others make music. Others praise dopamine as we try to understand its role in our lives. As music therapy is one form of treating Parkinson’s, maybe one of the songs about dopamine will strike a chord in your brain and help make more of this critical neurotransmitter. “If you are looking for an electro-pop track to help get your sprits lifted and push you through the weekend, look no further than Elephante’s new single, “Dopamine.” “Dopamine” is an ode to grabbing life by the horns and living it to the fullest.” (Click here to read the entire post)

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge.  Let your imagination, the key to learning and memory, unleash that brain power and propel you along at ever-increasing speeds. It’s not an exclusive path with access granted only to those with a special gift for learning. It is, instead, available to everyone who has a brain. Anything’s possible.” Dominic O’Brien

Cover Photo Image by Aurélien from Pixabay

2 Replies to “Parkinson’s: Dopamine (A Neurotransmitter and the Title of Many Songs)”

  1. Hi Prof. Church,

    I think I’ve spotted a typo.

    “MAO-B inhibitors block an enzyme in the brain that breaks down levodopa.”

    Shouldn’t that be dopamine, rather than levodopa?

    Warm Regards, Jeff Keegan ________________________________


    1. Hi Jeff, you are absolutely correct, it should be dopamine. I have corrected the problem. I hope all is well with you? I am finally starting to play golf again; however, I’m moving forward very slowly. We are also enjoying the 80-85 degrees weather in SC this week, while much of the USA has snow. Best wishes, Frank


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