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"The altered genes may provoke the brain to respond and compensate, and compensation often involves the dopamine system going into high gear," says Seeman. "The brain knows about mistakes, and to protect itself, it makes sense for the compensation to re-adjust the dopamine system to preserve the functions - such as movement and thought - that the body and brain needs."
An excessively active dopamine system can trigger the hallucinations and delusions experienced in schizophrenia, amphetamine drug abuse or Alzheimer's disease. In drug abuse, the reaction is temporary; in schizophrenia, it recurs.
"This research brings together two worlds: the psychosis of drug abuse and schizophrenia," says Seeman. "There's a common denominator based on the dopamine receptor."