After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen




Monday, 25 February 2013
Links on Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour

This week, as I have before in this blog,  I am posting a set of new links to other web sites that discuss a subject covered in The Brain from Top to Bottom. The subject this week is the sub-topic “Pleasure-Seeking Behaviour”, under the topic “Pleasure and Pain”. For each link, I also provide a brief description of the content on the site in question.

Molecular Level

i_lien The elegant logic of dopamine

To be a dopaminergic neuron, a neuron must be capable of manufacturing dopamine. This article explores the workings of the genes that enable a neuron to produce this neurotransmitter.

a_lien Psychosis and Salience dysregulation

This blog entry explains the possible link between the dopaminergic system which assigns a value (“salience”) to some stimuli, thus making them desirable incentives, and the phenomenon of psychosis which may result from hyperactivity of this system, leading to the conscious perception of processes that are normally unconscious.

a_exp A dopamine receptor gene and emotional control

The degree of control that people exercise over their emotions may be associated with variations in the dopamine D2 receptor in parts of the brain such as the amygdala or the prefrontal cortex.

i_lien Researchers find a “liberal gene”

There may be some connections between a variant of the gene for the dopamine D4 receptor and personality traits associated with political liberalism.

Cellular Level

i_lien Interactive effects of alcohol and nicotine on dopamine release in the rat brain

A diagram illustrating the synergistic effects of alcohol and nicotine on the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.

i_lien Mesolimbic dopamine system circuitry

A simplified diagram of the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway in the rat brain, highlighting the major inputs to the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental area.

a_lien Biological substrates of reward and aversion: a nucleus accumbens activity hypothesis

A review of experimental findings supporting the hypothesis that the processes not only of reward but also of aversion are encoded in the neural activity of the nucleus accumbens.

Psychological Level

i_lien Musing on the topic of well-being or happiness…

What we call well-being or happiness may involve a certain type of mental activity that calls on executive functions of the frontal lobe: the ability to focus on certain types of thoughts and not others, and on feelings of coherence rather than “random input from the environment and the old Pandora’s box of your past”.

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