Happiness not only is a state of positive outlook and well-being but can be chemically induced to activate the fuzzy feeling. There are four primary chemicals in the brain can help us feel happy: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Altogether, these chemicals keep the brain functioning and healthy.
Dopamine is an interactive infographic that illustrates the importance of dopamine in the brain and the purpose it provides to stimulate and regulate our brain functions. By simply focusing on the pathways in the brain: mesolimbic, mesocortical, nigrostriatal and tuberoinfundibular, the mapping outlines the positives of dopamine for brain activity and the negatives of dopamine decline.
I was inspired to create an infographic about dopamine during a lecture called Health Controversies. Also known as one of the Happy Hormones, the infographic uses a lot of bright colours to reflect positivity, attract attention and kept the information fun and straight-forward. As I continued to gather information about the hormone, I saw that it was a big factor in mental illness. The project became my pathway to educating the public about the importance of happiness and potential dangers of chemical imbalance can lead to serious disorders and mental illnesses
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. It also regulates movement, attention, learning and emotional responses. Mainly released from the ventral tegmental area (VTA), it follows different pathways to help the brain. Deficiencies in dopamine levels can lead to disorders in the brain such as Parkinson’s. Addictions can occur primarily because dopamine is a reward and when we don’t receive it, we crave it.
Dopamine unveils the brain’s dopamine map covering the four different pathways that cover various parts of the brain. Using an interactive colour coded legend makes it easier for the user to associate, which colour goes with which path and to learn more about each path, the user can click a coloured circle, which will direct them to a new page. The chosen pathway is highlighted and greys out the remaining pathways. It is described in detail with what the dopamine provides to an area of the brain and the user has the option of shutting off dopamine activity to see the consequences.
The coloured circles are used to navigate between the pathways and describe in detail how dopamine provides functionality to an area of the brain. For example, the mesocortical pathway connects from the ventral tegmentum to the prefrontal cortex. The purpose of this pathway helps with motivation, emotional responses, and cognitive control and without proper distribution of dopamine through the mesocortical pathway; it can cause serious disorders such as schizophrenia.
The user has the option of shutting down the pathway after understanding the positives of dopamine. When the pathway is shut off, the decline in dopamine causes a dysfunction in the brain that can ultimately lead to a disorder. The purpose of the infographic is to create awareness about the importance of dopamine that can prevent the effects of disorders such as schizophrenia