The Functions of Neurotransmitters and Hormones - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

The Functions of Neurotransmitters and Hormones

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 5 Mar 2016 - 15:09


The function of the brain is predominantly reliable on neurotransmitters and hormones, which are very important for both, mental and physical health. Hormones and neurotransmitters help the brain balance the feelings and the signals which are sent to other organs in the body. The nervous system uses a vast system of communication molecules called neurotransmitters (NTs) to carry messages to every part of the human body.

NTs communicate between the cells in the brain and also in the parts of the nervous system (outside of your brain), the spinal cord and all of the nerves going to the internal organs and limbs. Hormones have emotional impacts on the person's mood and the brain. Hormones and neurotransmitters determine how we think and feel. They influence our eating and sleeping patterns, sexual desire, learning ability and concentration. Factors like age, stress, genes and poor diet lead to imbalance in hormones and neurotransmitters. However, both can be rebalanced through supplements, dietary changes and compounded formulations.


Neurotransmitters are mostly endogenous (relating an endogen) chemicals that take a particular signal from billions of neurons and carry it to the destination, known as synapse. There are many types of neurotransmitters in the brain. The common part about them is that a) they are produced inside a neuron, b) released into the synapse and then c) cause an excitatory or inhibitory effect on the receptor cells. This helps to propagate or downgrade action potentials.

Neurotransmitters are classified into two groups namely:

  • Small-molecule transmitters: small-molecule transmitters are further differentiated into monoamines such as dopamine and amino acids like glutamate. Usually small-molecule transmitters are direct actors on neighboring cells
  • Neuropeptides: This class includes insulin, endorphins and oxytocin. They are better suited for more subtle modulatory effects.

Scientists have determined more than 60 different neurotransmitters in the human brain and hope to find more in the future. Neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA and others, play an essential role in human cognition and behavior. Neuroscientists have discovered that neurotransmitters are complex, multi-faceted and interact with one another in different ways.

  • Acetylcholine: Acetylcholine is a small-molecule neurotransmitter that basically works at the neuromuscular junction. It translates intention into action between the neuron and the muscle fiber. However, it has also been associated to attention and cortical neuroplasticity
  • Dopamine: Dopamine is mostly referred to as “pleasure chemical”. It is associated with issues such as decision making in Parkinson’s disease patients. It plays diverse roles in human behavior and cognition. Dopamine is involved with movement, reward processing, attention, motivation and learning ability. It plays an essential role in schizophrenia, addiction and neuropsychiatric disorders.
  • Glutamate: Glutamate (GLU) is the most excitatory neurotransmitter in the cortex. Excess glutamate leads to excitotoxicity or death of neurons, due to traumatic brain injury and stroke. Yet, glutamate plays an important role in learning and memory; the molecular process in the glutamatergic neurons of the hippocampus and cortex, help to form memories (LTP or long term potentiation).
  • GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid):  GABA induces sleep, relaxation and helps control pain. Too little GABA can result in insomnia, irritability and restlessness. GABA is the inhibitory correlate of GLU. GABA works to inhibit action potentials and therefore it has been linked to seizure and other pathologies. Recent study has indicated that changes in GABA polarity, exciting immature neurons, may help lay down important brain circuits in early development.
  • Serotonin: Serotonin modifies the other neurotransmitters and is the precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin. Serotonin also referred as “calming chemical” is well known for its mood modulating effects. Lack of serotonin has been associated to neuropsychiatric disorders like depression. However, it has also been implicated in sleeping patterns, memory, appetite and decision making behaviors.
  • Norepinephrine: Norepinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone that has been associated to mood, vigilance, stress, arousal and memory. Researchers have focused on its role in both Parkinsons’s disease and post-traumatic stress.


Hormones are another set of chemicals which are released by every organ so that it can affect some other organ. They are generated by cells of organs and are similarly accepted by other organ cells. There are many types of hormones, out of which some of the most important hormones of the body are generated in the brain.

Functions: The main functions of hormones are:

  • They help the body to function properly
  • Activation of body’s immune system and control of the reproductive system are some of the other functions
  • Another important function of the hormone is that they control the mood of the person. Hence, whenever there is an imbalance of hormones in the body the person suffers from mood swings. Long term imbalances of these substances leads to depression.






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