Hormones and neurotransmitters are two types of chemical signaling molecules produced by animals, which are responsible for the behavior and attitudes of the organism.

Hormones can be either proteins, lipids or cholesterol-based molecules. Neurotransmitters are proteins.

The main difference between hormones and neurotransmitters is that hormones are produced in endocrine glands and are released into the blood stream where they find their targets of action at some distance from its origin.

Neurotransmitters are released into the synaptic gap by a terminal of a stimulated presynaptic nerve cell, transmitting a nerve signal to its neighboring postsynaptic nerve cell.


Acetylcholine (ACh)

Regulates the sleep cycle, essential for muscle functioning.

Adrenaline (Ad) / Epinephrine (Epi)

The fight-or-flight response (increased heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose production).

Happens: When you want to fight or flight.
Enhances: Awareness and protects bodily parts and functions, ready for action.

Antidiuretic hormone (ADH) / Vasopressin

Regulates the circadian rhythm — Helps maintain the body's internal temperature, its blood volume, and the proper flow of urine from the kidneys.


Regulates the circadian rhythm — Helps maintain the body's internal temperature, its blood volume, and the proper flow of urine from the kidneys.

Happens: When stressed and afraid.
Enhances: Fight and flight mode and shuts down rational thinking.

Dopamine (DA)

Involved in incentive-motivational pathways and response to aversive stimuli.

Inhibits unnecessary movements, and stimulates the secretion of growth hormone.

Happens: When excited or you reached a goal.
Enhances: Focus, Motivation, Memory.


Produced by your pituitary gland and central nervous system and act on the opiate receptors in your brain.

Happens: In joyful and lovable situations.
Enhances: Pleasure, Creativity, Relaxazion and Reduces Pain / Discomfort.

Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

Reduces neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system.

Glutamate (Glu)

Regulates central nervous system excitability, learning process and memory.


Regulates wakefulness, blood pressure, pain, and sexual behavior; increases the acidity of the stomach; mediates inflammatory reactions.

Norepinephrine (NE) / Noradrenaline (NAd)

Increases the level of alertness and wakefulness, stimulates various processes of the body.

Oxytocin (Oxt)

Involved in childbirth and breast-feeding, but also associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building. Also called the “love hormone”.

Happens: When you feel emphatic or in love.
Enhances: Generosity, Trust, Bonding.

Serotonin (5-HT)

Inhibits impulsive behavior and regulate anxiety, happiness and mood.


Promotes electrical action signals.

  • Acetylcholine.
  • Adrenaline / Epinephrine.
  • Dopamine.
  • Endorphins.
  • Glutamate.
  • Histamine.
  • Norepinephrine / Noradrenaline.


Prevents electrical action signals.

  • Dopamine.
  • Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid.
  • Serotonin.


Releases hormones from hypothalamus.

  • Antidiuretic hormone / Vasopressin.
  • Oxytocin.


Regulates the effectiveness of the signal transmission.

  • Acetylcholine.
  • Dopamine.
  • Histamine.
  • Norepinephrine.
  • Serotonin.

Neurotransmitter Cocktails

A cocktail is a mix of neurotransmitters and hormones which mixed together, produces an emotional impact on a person.

In the story telling domain, great storytellers uses a cocktail called the Angels Cocktail, which is the optimal emotional state for learning.

Another counter cocktail, is the Devils Cocktail, which puts a person in fight or flight state.

Angels cocktail

  • Dopamine (excitement).
  • Oxytocin (empathy, feeling human, love drug).
  • Endorphines (laugh, happiness).

Devils cocktail

  • Cortisol (stress).
  • Adrenaline (Activates the body and muscles).

Triggered by

    • Building suspense and pause with a cliffhanger (dopamine).
    • Telling a sad, heartbroken or lovable story (oxytocin).
    • Telling a funny joke or moment (endorphins).

This is the optimal learning state, where storytelling can boost the learning experience.

Triggered by

  • Fight or flight conditions.
  • Unknown scary sounds and outcries that makes people want to escape the noise (cortisol & adrenaline).

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