A team of scientists from the University of California at San Francisco and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have discovered that a certain part of the brain releases dopamine in response to drinking water. An article with the findings of the work was published in the journal Nature.
Certain areas of the brain are known to release the neurotransmitter dopamine when something pleasurable occurs, such as having sex or eating delicious food. In a new study in mice, the researchers were able to trace the same mechanism when drinking water.
The experimental animals were given unlimited access to water for five minutes, and then their brain impulses were studied in the ventral tegmental region. The level of dopamine in the mice increased immediately after they started drinking. Ten minutes later, the researchers measured the amount of the neurotransmitter again, and concluded that it increased after the water had had time to digest. They also decided to test the hypothesis by adding salt to the liquid. It turned out that the second release of dopamine was much less due to the dehydrating effect of the supplement.
In September 2021, scientists from the USA reconsidered the role of dopamine. It was previously thought that the “pleasure hormone” is elevated by stress-related stimuli. In the new theory, experts put forward the view that neurotransmitter emissions are a response to the novelty and significance of the stimulus.