Weary of dopamine? Exhausted by oxytocin?
If, like most of America, you're tired of those once-fashionable neurotransmitters, tired of seeing their photoshopped portraits on magazine covers, do not despair. Today we announce the new new thing in neurotransmitters--the it girl, you might say, if it were a girl. This is the most exciting thing to hit neuroscience since Naomi Wolf declared that dopamine is the ultimate feminist chemical. (That was so last week.)
The biomedical postdoc who blogs as Scicurious has been following fashion trends in the scientific literature (who knew?) and she tells us in a post on The Scicurious Brain that something called orexin (photo) is the new black. Also called hypocretin, it's related to sleep and appetite. (The most common form of narcolepsy is due to a lack of orexin, Scicurious informs us.)
Reporting on a study in the August, 2012 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology, she notes that the orexin-1 receptor could be an ideal target to combat binge eating without increasing sleep.
In a story that does an admirable job of explaining scientific fashion trends and biology, she predicts that orexin "is going to be an up and comer."
Don't bet against her.