Melanin is always limited by definition has being only a skin pigment, but in fact Melanin is dominant throughout the entire human body. One of the primary locations in the body where Melanin is abundant and plays critical roles is in the midbrain area, known as the substantia nigra.
The substantia nigra is the Latin word for Black substance, due to its appearance from being highly Melaninated. The primary function of the substantia nigra is to regulate movement and coordination. It also controls the basal ganlia, a network of neurons that is important for memory. It regulates these functions through the production of dopamine (neuromelanin).
The substantia nigra contributes to smooth motion and coordination; which is every evident when participating in very physical activities such as dancing, playing basketball, football, boxing, etc.
One of the major culprits that disrupt the function of the substantia nigra is the well known disease, Parkinson’s. This disease, which makes the movement of the body rigid, is caused by the depreciation of the substantia nigra. Parkinson’s disease damages the neurons in substantia nigra that are responsible for producing dopamine. As Melanin depreciates in this area of the brain, it not only affects the body’s movement but also its ability to learn.