Showing posts from July, 2016

Introduction to Psychopharmacology - Part 4 (Action Potentials)

Action Potentials - How Neurons Communicate with each other.  To learn more about psychopharmacology, please check out "Psychopharmacology: Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior," by Jerrold S. Meyer and Linda F. Quenzer.
Now that we have talked about neurons individually, we are going explain how they communicate between each other. We mentioned in the last post that they do it by action potentials. Today we are going into detail of what are these, how they work, and why they work. There are two important features in this process: electric charge and chemicals, specifically sodium, potassium, and calcium. 
What is it?
An action potential is the electricity traveling inside a neuron (remember that our brain works on electricity). It starts at the axon hillock, which is the part located before the axon and after the soma, and ends in the terminal button. When it reaches its end, neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that send messages across neurons (1), are released from the terminal…

Introduction to Psychopharmacology - Part 3 (Neurons)

The Structure and Functions of Cells of the Nervous System

To learn more about psychopharmacology, please check out "Psychopharmacology: Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior," by Jerrold S. Meyer and Linda F. Quenzer.

Before continuing with our discussion about drugs and their effect on behavior we have to talk about the brain. Now, there are two reasons why this discussion is essential. The first one is that the brain is essential in behavior. For example, the mouth is needed to speak, but Broca's area also forms an important part for the production of speech. Moreover, the legs are needed to walk, however, the basal ganglia is necessary for movement. As you can see, the brain is a required component for every behavior and if the part brain is damaged the behavior ceases to exist. Thus, the brain is necessary for behavior. The second reason is that the brain is sufficient for the study of drugs and their effects. We know that behavior, or people in general, are a complex result…

Introduction to Psychopharmacology - Part 2 (How are Drugs Processed?)

The Processing of DrugsDrug action does not only depend on the chemical structure of a drug but also on factors like the rate in which it can be absorbed by the body; this factor is known as bioavailability (1). There are five factors that contribute to bioavailability that constitute the pharmacokinetic elements of drug action (2). Pharmacokinetics is the study of how drugs are absorbed, dispersed, processed, and eliminated from the body (3). The five factors are:
1. Routes of administration.
This is the way in which drugs enter the body. There are two major divisions in which a drug can be administered: Enteral, which refers to passing thorugh the intestine or gastrointestinal tract (4), and parentenal, which is all the methods in which the drug do not passes through the gastrointestinal tract (5). We will cover five methods of administration.

The first one is by means of injection. We will cover several types of injections, the first one being intravenous (IV) injection. This one goes…

Introduction to Drugs and behavior/Psychopharmacology - Part 1

Psychopharmacology - What is it?

To learn more about psychopharmacology, please check out "Psychopharmacology: Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior," by Jerrold S. Meyer and Linda F. Quenzer.
Psychopharmacology is defined as the study of how drugs affect mood, thinking, and behavior (1). Thus, in this introduction, we will explore the effects and the processing of drugs from a biopsychological perspective. First, we have to define some of the terminology. We will start with what a drug is. In one of part of our introduction to biopsychology (, we learned that a drug is a chemical that comes from the outside of our bodies and changes the normal functions of the cells when taken in low doses (2). The changes produced on a molecular level when a drug binds to the receptor of a neuron are called drug action (3). But the changes that occur on a physiological and/or psychological level are called drug effec…