Molecular Communication


In 1949,it was discovered that the Indian herb,Rauwolfia serpentina helped calm patients with schizophrenia.Reserpine,the active component and a related drug,chlorpromazine, reduces the concentration of the neurotransmitter,dopamine,in the brain and various other organs.These drugs act by blocking the binding of dopamine to the dopamine receptor,leading to the hypothesis that schizophrenia and possibly depression might be definable at the molecular level.Schizophrenia,classified as a psychiatric disorder,might then be considered a “medical” illness.Autopsy studies of patients with schizophrenia revealed increased numbers of dopamine receptors in the caudate nucleus and putamen of the brain.Until the development of PET,knowledge of the chemistry of the human brain could be obtained only from neurochemical and neuropathological examination of experimental animals or from studies of the human brain at autopsy.PET was as important a landmark in the study of the human brain as the discovery that neuronal activity was associated with measurable electrical activity within the brain of living persons.


Positron Emission Tomography Dopamine Receptor Parkinson Disease Nobel Prize Personal History 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2006

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