February 1, 2017

3 Neurotransmitters to Enhance Corporate Learning and Engagement

Written by Karen Possessky


Neurotransmitter is a term for chemicals that are synthesized in brain cells. As a learning and development leader and professional, you have the power to influence synaptic brain activity. Synapse simply refers to gap-crossing activity of brain chemicals between two cells in the brain.

Learning and development professionals have the power to influence synaptic brain activity to promote employee engagement

(Image from somerealitybites.com)

Norepinephrine (Narrowing)

Norepinephrine makes the brain narrow in on details to engage the learner. Production kicks into high gear whenever there is sense of competition, urgency or anticipation. Many are familiar with the neurotransmitter’s association with the “fight or flight response.” 

Norepinephrine prompts a series of physiological responses that preps the brain to perform well during excitable events. Gamification in training offers a sense of competition that makes an effective learning strategy to boost the chemical. Rewards can optimize learner participation because the excitement of a reward pushes the brain to perform well. Rewards do not have to be monetary. Some rewards may even be intrinsic. Recognition or symbols of progress (like a learning badge) entice most learners.

Dopamine (Dispatch) 

Memory works in progress when dopamine dispatches. When dopamine releases, learners are active and paying attention while their memory efficiently files incoming information. While norepinephrine prompts learner engagement, dopamine maintains it. Learners produce more when they are enticed to stay engaged. 

Developers can help attendees with maintaining employee engagement by appealing to the senses. For example, visual activities are useful tools for stimulating dopamine production to make learning material memorable. 

Serotonin (Satisfaction)

Serotonin, the satisfaction neurotransmitter is heavily associated with pleasure and relaxation - two states of mind that indicate a learner has entered the state of flow. Serotonin is more simply associated with mood, which can be misleading since there are endless factors that contribute to the complexity of mood. Therefore, it’s important to note that serotonin is not the solitary mood regulating factor. It’s more accurate to say that serotonin has a significant influence on mood. 

There is not much a corporate trainer can do to control external forces that impact serotonin in production. However, a developer’s awareness can help maximize a flow state.

Encourage online learners to find an environment that relaxes or elevates them before they begin. This is a personal preference and will vary for each individual learner. The learners’ participation in environmental choice will further support cognitive flow because they have actively contributed to their learning process. When learners feel like they have control over their own professional development, they become more invested in what they do.

Group interactions help learners feel connected with others over a common interest and goal. The sense of community and having an interactive platform stimulates the production of serotonin. Trainers may wish to consider social and interactive activities to appeal to the brain’s satisfaction.


The confluence of norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin maximize a flow state of learning. As a corporate developer, you are a scientist and an artist. The scientific knowledge serves to inspire the creative development process. Challenge yourself to think of these aspects of neuroscience when creating your next training curriculum.



Karen Possessky

Karen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who uses knowledge and methodologies from her life-long profession to navigate the digital marketing world. As founder of revv360, she helps startups, small business owners and thought leaders boost their marketing position.

eLearning Learning


see all

Search Post