Drugs, Brains and Behavior

This class will examine psychoactive drugs through a neuroscientific lense. We will explore how the structure and funtion of the nervous system allows for the emergence of psychological drug experiences.  We will also examine the history of drug use and the civilizational emergence pharmacology and drug culture.

 

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How do drugs interact with the brain? How do the changes drugs cause to the brain affect behavior? What are the biological, psychological and ecological drives for drug use? What are drugs?

 

Psychoactive drugs are those drugs which have unique chemical properties, allowing interactions in brain that cause observable changes in behavior. Overtime, bathing brain in drugs etches new connections between cell networks, strengthening some networks and weakening others. Drugs can therefore be used to make long term changes in the behavior of individual brain cells and entire communities of cells.

 

The diverse collection of cell types and behaviors in brain provide a swath of perplexing and beautiful activity. The way brain tissue responds to the presence of drugs provides a glimplse into the mechanisms of brain activity and provides a reliable focal point for the phenomeology of drug expereince. Psychoactive drugs have been used to treat medical illness, exploit economies, provide recreaction, evigorate spiritualism and much more. Now, with the advent of more sophisticated neuroscientific techniques, drugs are being used to map and characterize the brain.

 

This class will introduce principles of neuroscience and psychology in order to explore the dynamic interactions between brain and drugs. In addition, this class will cover basic anatomy of brain including gross brain structure and the structure of neurons. This information will be used to provide a backdrop for drug actions. Once some basic principles are established, the class will generally follow the interest of the participants. Depending on the interests of participants in the class, we can focus on a particular class of drugs, particular uses for drugs or addictive behaviors caused by psychoactive drugs.

   

 

Course sessions

    Sunday April 16

    6:00PM - 7:30PM (North Ave classroom)

    Introduction to principles of neuroscience, defining our terms and collectively developing objectives for the course. 

    Drugs. Didn't you always want t know about them? There are many things to explore. This is an opportuity to discuss what interests you about drugs, brains and behavior.