Chemicals in the Brain

This report is by Jaden and Max

The human brain uses chemicals that occur naturally in the brain to stimulate your emotions.  These chemicals are released from the temporal lobe part of the brain.  

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The chemicals made in the brain that make you happy are dopamine, serotonin,oxytocin and endorphins. The chemical dopamine fills in gaps between neurons, so the electrical messages that pass from neuron to neuron actually work better. This helps you learn new information more easily.   

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 Unfortunately, the chemicals in the brain are also responsible for making you sad. When there’s an imbalance of chemicals in your brain, you may feel sad, or even depressed (very sad for a long period of time). If you are depressed, you should go to the doctor and get medicine to get your brain chemicals back in balance.

 Some foods can change the amount of dopamine in the brain. Almonds, bananas, and milk can raise dopamine levels. 

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Dopamine is the chemical that makes you understand rewards. It also makes your brain want to try to get more rewards. For example, if you study hard and get a good grade on a test, your brain gives you a squirt of dopamine, and you feel happy and very proud of yourself. The feelings of happiness and pride are very positive feelings. This will make you want to study hard again next time, so you’ll achieve those same feelings of happiness and pride again.

Certain activities, like talking with friends, laughing, listening to someone read to you, doing something nice for someone, feeling grateful for what you have, or doing physical activity that you enjoy, all increase your dopamine levels. Try it! Do one of these, and see if your brain gives you a squirt of dopamine so you feel happier inside.

Surprisingly, dopamine also helps you learn. If you find a fun way to study, or make a game of getting your homework done, you’ll get a squirt of dopamine into your brain. This puts you in a happy mood. When you’re in a happy mood, the neurons send their electrical messages faster, and to more neurons. The electrical messages get into your hippocampus more easily. This is your memory center, so you remember the information you’re trying to learn more easily. Try it the next time you work to learn new information! It pays to make learning fun!


Questions or comments for Jaden and Max? Post in the comments box below.

What raises the dopamine level in YOUR brain?


“What You Should Know About Your Brain,” Judy Wills, Educational Leadership/ASCD ©2009 ©2012 ©2015

39 thoughts on “Chemicals in the Brain

  1. I was truly very impressed with the work that the boys did and that I learned so much from their research. Now I know why I love ice cream and how it helps me learn a lot. Thank you for the wonderful presentation!!!!

  2. The results of the second experiment, the one we took at the STEAM fair:
    On a scale of -40 to 40, with -40 being extremely depressed and 40 being extremely happy:
    Happy: 21.45
    Sad: 17.66

    This shows a difference of 3.79, or about 5%. The results are less dramatic, but this is probably because there was much excitement at the STEAM fair, so many other things could factor in. Also, our stimulus (what made the people happy and sad) wasn’t as strong.

  3. The results of our first experiment:
    On a scale of -40 to 40, with -40 being extremely depressed and 40 being extremely happy:
    Happy: 19.26315789
    Sad: 11.35274118

    This shows a difference of 7.91041671, or about 10%.
    These are the averages of the whole classes scores.

  4. When I am having fun with my friends raises the dopamine levels in my brain. I did not know that almonds, bananas and milk raise the dopamine levels in your brain. Thanks Max and Jaden for all the great information about chemicals in the brain.

  5. Exercising, laughing, and jumping off something really high all raise my dopamine level in my brain which, intern, makes me happy! 🙂

  6. I think its cool how dopamine can make you happy. Also it surprised me when I read almonds, bananas, and milk are able to raise dopamine levels, because I would never think that food was able to cause something to happen in my brain.

  7. Things that make me happy are reading, playing with my pet rabbit, getting 100 on a ELA or vocabulary test. I think it’s really cool how different things make different people happy.

  8. Max, Jaden, when I laugh I understand I get a squirt of dopamine in my brain but how does something like a joke or funny gesture make me so happy?

    • Hmmmm…. Interesting idea Ally. Who knows a good joke? When a joke is posted, tell us if it raises the dopamine level in your brain. You’ll know, because you’ll feel happy. You might even find yourself smiling or laughing (but not necessarily).

  9. Almonds, bananas and milk all raise the dopamine levels. Huh. I actually thought that happiness raised the level! That makes sense.

  10. Hearing a student say, “That’s interesting, Ms. Christie-Blick!” or “Now I understand!” raises the dopamine level in my brain. It makes me oh so happy! 🙂

  11. I think that it is really great and cool how dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins make you so happy! Although, I also think that it’s disapointing that they make you sad.

    • Tryptophan (the chemical in milk that causes Dopamine production) is found in milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. Out of everywhere I searched, butter was not mentioned. I am assuming this is because butter is just milk fat.

  12. Befor I read this I never knew all theses things and now I do. Like how almonds, milk, and bananas and make you happy, so for dessert I should eat a banana split with almonds and hot fuge?

  13. I find being creative by making music makes me happy. Also, eating ice cream makes me happy because ice cream is high in milk and eggs, which both raise dopamine levels.

  14. What rises my dopamine in my brain is, When I study so hard on a test and a couple days later I get it back and get a 100%. Also when I am with my friends and somone makes a joke that is funny I start laghing and that raises my dopamine. That is some of the stuff that raises my dopamine.

    • A chemical called Tryptophan is found in milk, which boosts Seratonin and Dopamine production. Bananas also increase Seratonin and Dopamine production. Almonds have a chemical called Tyrosine in them, that boosts Dopamine production.

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