NEUR 3204 V - Principles of Psychopharmacology: From Drugs to Behaviour

Introduction to synaptic mechanisms and the arrangements of the transmitter-specific brain systems, followed by a discussion of neuro-pharmacological bases of normal and abnormal behaviour and of the behavioural effects of various classes of psychoactive drugs such as stimulants, tranquilizers, opiates.
Precludes additional credit for PSYC 3204.
Prerequisite(s): NEUR 2200 and third-year standing.

The first portion of this course will review neurophysiology and neuroanatomy with special attention to those aspects related to drugs and behaviour, synaptic transmission and research methods in psychopharmacology including molecular techniques, animal models and brain imaging in humans. Included in this part of the course will be detailed descriptions of the key neurotransmitter systems including dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamate and GABA. The second part of the course will cover illicit drugs including cocaine, amphetamine, heroin as well as legal drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, etc. Topics will range from historical perspectives to pharmacology to mechanisms of action in animals and humans of each drug under question. Finally, mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression as well as the drugs used to treat these mental illnesses will be covered.

CRN for section V: 13889

CRN for section VOD (optional Video On Demand service): 13890

In-class lecture time & location:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:35am to 12:55pm, 624 SA

Instructor: Matthew Holahan

About the instructor: I first became truly intrigued by drug action in the brain when I was an undergrad student in psychology/neuroscience. I was in the student union and I saw an ad for a volunteer position in a lab that was studying the biological bases of addiction. I called up the principal investigator using a pay phone (so yes, a while ago), got an interview and started working in a "drug lab." One of my first projects was to inject rats with cocaine and measure their brain and behavioural changes. When I noted a dramatic change in their behaviour and corresponding change to the brain, I was shocked, amazed, and most of all, hooked on the idea of studying how and why drugs can exert such powerful effects on our brains and behaviour. Since that initial introduction to brain chemistry and drug effects over 20 years ago, I have been researching and teaching on this topic with the hope of conveying my enthusiasm for the chemical basis of behaviour and drug action to students.

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