What Is the Function of Dopamine?

Dopamine is known for the role it plays in regulating pleasure and reward systems in the brain, notes the Guardian. Dopamine malfunction can lead to everything from Parkinson's disease to addiction, according to Psychology Today.

The Guardian reports that dopamine helps regulate movement and attention and plays a role in stimulating the production of breast milk. The latter explains why one of the side effects of some types of anti-psychotic medication, which affects the operations of dopamine, is production of breast milk, even in men. Dopamine influences some operations of blood vessels such as dilation. It also causes kidneys to boost the excretion of sodium.

The neurotransmitter does not just play an important role in motivating individuals to pursue goals; it also encourages them to continue pursuing the goals again if they fail at their first attempts, adds the Guardian. However, this attribute, while useful in tasks that require skill, can also abet destructive behavior such as gambling. The neurotransmitter is indirectly responsible for certain kinds of risk-taking behavior; according to Psychology Today, dopamine receptors present in the brains of some individuals encourage extreme sensation seeking. Studies indicate that malfunction in the operations of dopamine may play a role in conditions as diverse as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and restless leg disorder.