Monday question: Do neuromodulators have a unifying role?

We would never say that glutamate or GABA, the “basic” neurotransmitters, have a particular function. So why do attempt to give modulators like dopamine or oxytocin a defined role? Dopamine, for instance, is not only spread across the brain, but is also in the retina!

Or take oxytocin, “the love molecule”. It is not only involved in social behaviors but also cross-modal plasticity¬†and modulating hippocampal fast spiking interneurons.

Do either dopamine or oxytocin – or any other neuromodulator for that matter – have a unifying function? Or did the brain evolve multiple independent uses for the modulators?