Understanding Neurotransmitters: Dopamine and Norepinephrine

Brooklyn Letters IconBrooklyn Letters

1139 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn

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    We would highly recommend Ally! Our son always asks about her, so very thankful to Brooklyn Letters for introducing us.
    ~ Emily, mom of Brooklyn 2 year old
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    Nicole has been an amazing therapist!! She played a tremendous role in our daughter’s speech progress and overall development. She has come such a long way and we are so happy with the therapy she received!
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    I cannot express how grateful and rewarding my experience with Brooklyn Letters has been. Her tutor Ms. Daria is so knowledgeable, amazing, kind and awesome. My daughter has made so much progress in Literacy and Math and it's all … More thanks to Ms. Daria. I know my daughter is sad that she can no longer work with Ms. Daria, as she looked forward to their sessions every week. Thank you again!
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    Excellent services, caring therapists.
  • Avatar Lil Amatore ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    Christina was absolutely wonderful. She went out of her way to win my son over and it worked. He looked forward to her visits and his speech improved so much under her care. She was super flexible and it’s clear she truly cares. We adore … More Christina and we’re going to miss her. Almost sad he improved so much! She’s simply amazing and we can’t say enough how great she is. I would recommend her services to anyone and everyone, without hesitation. Thank you so much for connecting us with her!
  • Avatar Colin Peters ★★★★★ 6 months ago
    We could not be happier with the services Valerie provided! She is very thoughtful and knowledgeable and provided significant guidance to support our daughter's speech development outside of our scheduled sessions. She established … More a great working relationship with her, and she will definitely be missed! Your business model is amazing and it was an absolute pleasure working with Valerie. I've referred your organization and Valerie to the Executive Director of our daughter's school and friends/colleagues who are in need of speech therapy services.
  • Avatar Heather Liljengren ★★★★★ a year ago
    We cannot say enough good things about Effie, the ASL teacher, who was so engaged and effective with our 2 year old daughter from the very first session! Effie gladly included our whole family in the sessions! Her expertise and fantastic … More personality gave our daughter a way to communicate that she was so desperately seeking. The coordinators at Brooklyn Letters were so helpful and communicative…I would highly recommend their services!
  • Avatar Chris duke Fields ★★★★★ a month ago
    The company is great with outstanding customer service. They keep my horses protected. I have recommended them to other horses trainers as well that are going to get service early next year. Very professional an honest too. Respectfully … More submitted Christopher
  • Avatar Nikhil Jaisinghani ★★★★★ 5 months ago
    Ron and Ken did a fantastic job with our security system today. Installed everything very quick. Both of them were very polite and asked us throughout if the installation met our needs. Simply fantastic!
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    I called Cornerstone Protection to get a Security system at a relatives out of state property, within a week it was installed! The installers worked with the client to help understand her new system and she was happy! Our relative said … More they were courteous, professional and patient! I highly recommend Cornerstone Protection for all of your security needs!
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    Had blink cameras; Car was broken into multiple times so I called CornerStone & they were able to install multiple cameras very quickly & for a reasonable price. I am so happy with the app & getting alerts that are not superfluous, … More like they were with Blink. Highly recommend CornerStone & the tech Ronnie.
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    Ron and Ken are great guys to work with.
    Both were very knowledgeable and got our system back up and running.
    Thanks to both for a job well done...
  • Avatar Brigid Bower ★★★★★ 11 months ago
    Samantha Dalmas was fantastic! We saw her for a feeding therapy evaluation and while she doesn’t think my daughter needs more feeding therapy sessions at this time, but she gave me lots of tips to try. If my daughter's doctors want … More to see more progress at her next appointment, I wouldn’t hesitate to reach out to Samantha again.
  • Avatar Larry Barton ★★★★★ a year ago
    Amazing assistance provided by Shannon today on my security system. I’m so grateful for your prompt, efficient, professional, and courteous service. Put me down as a customer for life!
  • Avatar Megan Haller ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    One of the most painless experiences I've had. They came on time and was over the moon professional with still keeping a level of personability to it. The gentleman also went out of his way to say that my husband and Mines business … More was appreciated. Which is actually rare to be appreciated by such a great company. So thank you and we look forward to continuing services with this company.
  • Avatar Megan Magsam ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    I am so happy we decided to go with cornerstone. They were quick and efficient. Shannon and the installer we very friendly. We got a lot of equipment and it was still within our budget. 10/10 would definitely recommend! Thank you
  • Avatar Collins Youngblood ★★★★★ a year ago
    Love the customer service and Shanon and his team go above and beyond for my restaurant. Couldn't of asked for a better security system and level of service that his team provides.
  • Avatar kanu patel ★★★★★ 2 years ago
    I have been using Cornerstone Protection service for over 5 years and I'm really happy with the service and state-of-the-art equipments and it's futures are so much in advance and friendly, I highly recommend Cornerstone Protection … More Service any and all business that need a security protection days and nights specially after business hours(Cornerstone Protection is perfect solution for your business). Owner of Cornerstone Protection is proactive with their customers and their equipments. Good experienced with Cornerstone Protection!!!
    Kanu Patel
  • Avatar Liz Jones ★★★★ 2 years ago
    We had a very positive experience with Alissa as a tutor for our pod of 5th grade boys from January - June 2020. She cared a lot about the boys and worked hard to create meaningful activities for them. The pod experience was invaluable … More for all of our families during a difficult year and we were so grateful to have found this partnership! We also want to appreciate Craig for helping to match us with a tutor on very short notice after we had cycled through a few folks who were not able to see the commitment through. Thanks for sticking with us!
  • Avatar S CL ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    Dusty was the exact person we needed to help our child finish out the school year. So grateful to him for the way he steadily encouraged her and helped her stay on track and organized. He is flexible, responsive to our needs/schedule as … More a family, and a delight to be with. We are also thankful that Craig at Themba Tutors really "gets it" and partnered us with such a wonderful tutor who was a great fit for our girl.
  • Avatar Nicole May ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    My child worked with Gillian D virtually for math enrichment. She is an excellent teacher. She took time to understand my child's specific learning style and provided tools that would be engaging. She was kind and empathetic- really … More made it her goal to connect with my child and build trust and rapport. My child started the school year with confidence and without the typically "brain-drain" that occurs over the summer, thanks to Gillian.
  • Avatar Gillian Davidoff ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    I am going into my second year as a Themba tutor. I have met so many great individuals while working for this company. Craig and the rest of the Themba team do such an excellent job picking and choosing Themba tutors that suit each client's … More individual needs! I look forward to meeting new tutors and clients in the 2021-2022 school year!
  • Avatar carolina luttmann ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    Our son started in a new high school, 100% remote, and was really struggling with Latin and Physics. I found Themba Tudors online and had an initial call with Craig, who was very knowledgeable, responsive, and found 2 amazing tutors for … More us. Both the Latin and the physics tutors were fantastic, connected with my son really well and helped him go from 'failing' grade to 'honors'! I will for sure continue using (and recommending!) Themba Tutors. Thank you, C, K, and W!
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    Brian is a fantastic executive functioning coach. Super helpful, flexible with hours, and tailored the experience to our needs.
  • Avatar Susan Wong ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    Giulia Mercuri is a great Italian tutor! She was very responsive and accessible. Giulia put a ton of effort into preparing for each session and really helped our son with test preparation and projects. We are grateful that she was able … More to help, especially since our son did not receive any live teaching during COVID. We are happy that she was referred to us!
  • Avatar Christine Gennetti ★★★★★ 3 years ago
    As an adult student diagnosed with a learning disability during grad school, I knew I needed help dealing with my Master's program's demanding workload. I was seriously considering dropping out when I was referred to Themba Tutors. … More I was paired up with a wonderful tutor, Julie, who was a total lifesaver. I learned many techniques that I can utilize in the future as I embark on the next phase of my career.
    I can wholeheartedly say after working with Themba for two years that I would not have finished my program without this organization. And I am so thankful I selected them.
  • Avatar Fabiola FITZPATRICK ★★★★★ 4 years ago
    We were introduced to a wonderful tutor: Mcedwyn. He and our son, a freshman in college, worked well together. As a result, our son’s grades significantly improved. The tutor taught our son subject content and various methods to effectively … More study for quizzes and exams. Our son was also taught time management and organization. My son’s experience with the tutor made the first year of college a less intimidating experience.
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    We have been with our tutor, Cailin Schiller, for two years, from 5th - 7th grade. She started as an executive functioning tutor with my daughter. From the start, she demonstrated a depth of expertise and a selective use of techniques skillfully … More adapted to my daughter’s ADHD and Math disability. Cailin made Math accessible and understandable to her in a way that even her teachers had not been able to do. She differentiated reading, writing and math tasks and assignments to tailor them to my daughter’s unique learning differences. Not only did it have an effect on her grades and her work efficiency, but she finally could do her work with less anxiety. Even my daughter’s teachers used Cailin’s guidance to modify their work with her. But most importantly, she became my daughter’s favorite resource. I can’t say how invaluable Cailin has been to my daughter’s progress and well-being. I’d recommend her a million times over. She is a gem.
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    Victoria is a superb tutor. She helped my high school age daughter with her writing. Victoria's skills as a tutor, as well as her sense of humor and her engaging personality went a long way with my daughter.
  • A Google User ★★★★★ 4 years ago
    I'm so glad we were referred to Themba Tutors. After a great initial conversation to learn our needs, we were connected with an excellent tutor, Felicia, who is helping our high school daughter learn better organizational and executive … More skills. Highly recommended.
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    Themba Tutors provided a leaning specialist that was a perfect fit for my daughter. I told them what we were looking for and they delivered. Our tutor is responsive and flexible and makes it easy for my daughter to reach out to her own … More her own, which gives her an added sense of responsibility over her learning. As a therapist myself, I now regularly recommend Themba to my patients. A much needed and well provided service to the community!!
  • Avatar Frances Simpson ★★★★★ 4 years ago
    The tutors at Themba are fantastic! Caitlyn McNeill helped our son academically, but also with getting organized in every subject, which he so desperately needed. She offered great advice and useful strategies that helped our son become … More a more successful student. We are using Themba tutors again this year for our daughter. We're so happy to have been referred to them!
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    I'm so glad we were referred to Themba Tutors. After a great initial conversation to learn our needs, we were connected with an excellent tutor, Felicia, who is helping our high school daughter learn better organizational and executive … More skills. Highly recommended.
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    We had a wonderful experience with our tutor Micaela. She helped our son not only academically but at every level. We will be forever grateful to have her in our lives.
  • Avatar Frances ★★★★★ 4 years ago
    The tutors at Themba are fantastic! Caitlyn McNeill helped our son academically, but also with getting organized in every subject, which he so desperately needed. She offered great advice and useful strategies that helped our son become … More a more successful student. We are using Themba tutors again this year for our daughter. We're so happy to have been referred to them!
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    Paul Smith at Themba has been an exceptional tutor for my son, both in terms of teaching the subject matter and teaching how best to approach the process of learning math and executing assignments. We feel very fortunate to be working with … More Paul.
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    We were very lucky to have found Edwouine Swift, my son's therapist through Themba Tutors. Thomas is 12 years old, and it is extremely difficult to get him to write. Edwouine just works her magic with him, he adores her and is so … More eager to follow her guidance. I have no doubt she will be a positive driving force in his academic future.




Ever wonder what’s going on in your brain that makes you, well, you? The complex web of connections in your brain is powered by chemicals called neurotransmitters that determine how you think, feel, and act. For those with ADHD, the neurotransmitter connections in the brain differ in key ways that lead to the symptoms associated with the disorder, like trouble focusing, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. Understanding the role of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine and how they differ in ADHD and non-ADHD brains provides insight into why you or your loved one may struggle with certain behaviors or excel in other ways. A glimpse inside the ADHD brain can help make sense of the challenges and harness the strengths that come with it.

Understanding Neurotransmitters and Their Role in the Brain

Understanding Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that transmit signals from one neuron to another. They’re essential for communicating information influencing your mood, behavior, cognition, etc.

If you have ADHD, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine are particularly important to understand. Dopamine influences attention, motivation, reward processing, and movement. Norepinephrine impacts alertness and arousal.

In an ADHD brain, these neurotransmitters work differently. Researchers believe dopamine and norepinephrine pathways are impaired, causing a shortage of these chemicals in key areas of the brain that control attention and impulsivity.

This can make it hard to focus, control impulses, and regulate behavior and emotions. The good news is treatments for ADHD, like medication and therapy, are designed to help improve the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

  • Dopamine: Low levels linked to inattention and hyperactivity. Medications increase dopamine to improve focus and self-control.
  • Norepinephrine: Responsible for maintaining alertness and arousal. Low levels can cause issues with focus and cause restlessness. Medications aim to boost norepinephrine.

While differences in brain chemistry can present challenges, the ADHD brain has many strengths. With the right treatment and support, people with ADHD can thrive and achieve their full potential. Understanding how neurotransmitters contribute to ADHD is an important first step.

Brain Structure Differences in ADHD vs. Non-Adhd Brains

If you have ADHD, your brain is wired a bit differently. Two key neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, don’t work the same in your brain as in a neurotypical brain.

Dopamine is crucial for motivation, reward, and attention. In an ADHD brain, dopamine levels are lower overall, and dopamine doesn’t spike as much in response to rewards or stimulation. This makes it harder to focus and stay on task. You may feel less motivated since you’re not getting the same “reward” feedback.

Norepinephrine regulates attention and arousal. In an ADHD brain, norepinephrine levels are also lower, making it more difficult to tune out distractions and “turn on” your attention. You may feel restless or hyperactive as your brain searches for stimulation.

In a neurotypical brain, neurotransmitter levels are balanced, and activity is regulated. Dopamine provides normal motivation and reward feedback, so focusing and completing tasks is easier. Norepinephrine is produced correctly to maintain attention when needed and avoid restlessness.

The differences in brain structure and neurotransmitter activity between ADHD and non-ADHD brains underscore why certain behaviors may present challenges for you—but understanding how your brain works can help in developing effective coping strategies and finding the right treatment plan. You’ve got this! With the proper support, you absolutely can thrive.

How Brain Scans Diagnose ADHD

Dopamine and Norepinephrine: The Major Neurotransmitters Implicated in ADHD

If you have ADHD, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain just aren’t doing their job like they should. These chemicals are responsible for motivation, focus, and reward processing. For those without ADHD, dopamine and norepinephrine levels rise and fall as needed to regulate attention and behavior.


In an ADHD brain, these neurotransmitters are impaired, causing problems with:

  • Focus: Trouble focusing your attention on boring or mundane tasks. Your mind wanders, and you struggle to tune out distractions.
  • Impulsivity: Acting without thinking due to a lack of self-control and delayed gratification. You need help with waiting your turn or sitting still.
  • Hyperactivity: Excessive fidgeting, restlessness, and trouble sitting still. Your body seems to always be in overdrive.
  • Motivation: Difficulty starting or completing tasks that you find tedious. You procrastinate and avoid activities that require sustained mental effort.

Studies show that people with ADHD tend to have lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine activity in key areas of the brain that regulate these functions. Treatment for ADHD, whether behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two, aims to increase and regulate these neurotransmitters to improve symptoms. Getting the right balance and timing of dopamine and norepinephrine is crucial. Too much or too little of either neurotransmitter can lead to problems with focus, impulsivity, and restlessness. Managing ADHD is about achieving neurotransmitter homeostasis – not too much or too little, but just the right amount of dopamine and norepinephrine for your unique brain chemistry.

Neurotransmitter Activity in Non-Adhd Brains

In a non-ADHD brain, neurotransmitters fire in a controlled and regulated manner. Dopamine levels rise and fall steadily in response to stimuli, allowing you to focus and feel rewarded. Norepinephrine activates to increase alertness and attention, dissipating when no longer required.

Neurotransmitter Activity in Non-ADHD Brains

Dopamine, the “motivation molecule,” activates in non-ADHD brains when you anticipate a reward or pleasure. It makes you feel good when you accomplish something or do an enjoyable activity. However, dopamine levels are not constantly elevated. They rise and fall in a controlled manner based on the situation. This allows you to focus your motivation and attention when needed.

Norepinephrine, the “alertness” neurotransmitter, kicks in when you need to concentrate or react quickly. It activates your fight or flight system, energizing and heightening your senses. But in normal brains, norepinephrine levels stabilize again once the situation passes. This prevents you from feeling constantly “on edge” or overstimulated.

Serotonin, the “mood regulator,” works in the background to keep your mood balanced and prevent extreme highs and lows. Healthy serotonin levels promote feelings of calmness and contentment.

When all neurotransmitters are firing as they should, you feel focused, motivated, and emotionally regulated. You can pay attention when needed, enjoy rewards and pleasures in moderation, and maintain an even keel. For the ADHD brain, however, this delicate balance of neurotransmitters is disrupted, leading to the symptoms associated with the disorder.


Neurotransmitter Imbalances in ADHD Brains

If you have ADHD, the neurotransmitters in your brain just aren’t firing the same way as in a neurotypical brain. Two key neurotransmitters involved in ADHD are dopamine and norepinephrine.


Dopamine is crucial for motivation, reward-seeking behavior, and impulse control. In an ADHD brain, dopamine activity is lower in areas important for motivation and reward. This can make it hard to start tasks and make good choices. Medications for ADHD often target dopamine to improve focus and decision-making.


Norepinephrine impacts alertness and arousal. For those with ADHD, norepinephrine levels are lower in parts of the brain, which is important for attention regulation. This can lead to trouble focusing and make you prone to distractions. Some ADHD medications increase norepinephrine activity in the brain to help improve focus and concentration.

While the neurotransmitter activity in a neurotypical brain is balanced and efficient, in an ADHD brain, it’s just not hitting the target. The good news is, with treatment like medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, or often a combination, you can get your neurotransmitters firing on all cylinders so you can thrive and succeed. Understanding what’s happening in your brain is the first step to getting your needed help and support.


So there you have it – a look inside the brain to see what’s happening with ADHD. The differences in neurotransmitter activity between an ADHD and non-ADHD brain highlight why certain symptoms manifest and behaviors emerge. Now that you understand the underlying mechanisms, you can see ADHD differently. Rather than labeling it as a disorder, view it as a different cognitive style that, while challenging, has its strengths. The key is learning coping strategies to minimize the impacts of the symptoms that cause problems while harnessing the upsides. Understanding the science helps remove the stigma and allows you to advocate for yourself or your child. Knowledge is power, so keep learning and spreading awareness about how amazing and complex the human brain is, ADHD or not.

Get the support you need to manage ADHD. Chat with Themba Tutors today.
We provide ADHD/ADD coaching to individuals of all ages!


Call: (917) 382-8641, Text: (833) 565-2370 

Email: [email protected]

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Meet Craig Selinger, the passionate owner behind Themba Tutors, a renowned practice specializing in executive function coaching and tutoring. Together with his team of multidisciplinary professionals, they bring their extensive knowledge to numerous locations: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx, Westchester, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as offering remote services. As a licensed speech-language pathologist in the state of NY, executive functioning coach, and educational specialist with an impressive track record spanning over two decades, Craig has professionally assisted thousands of families. Craig's proficiency encompasses a wide spectrum of areas, including language-related learning challenges such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening. He is also well-versed in executive functioning, ADHD/ADD, and various learning disabilities. What truly distinguishes Craig and his team is their unwavering commitment to delivering comprehensive support. By actively collaborating with the most esteemed professionals within the NYC metropolitan region – from neuropsychologists to mental health therapists and allied health experts – they create a network of expertise.
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