E.4c Neurotransmitters & Drugs

27/01/2014 § Leave a comment

Yooooooooooo, kids, don’t do drugs.


Well, first of all, what kind of drugs are we talking about. The syllabus told me that we’re looking at THC and cocaine (thank you, syllabus).

THC is an inhibitory psychoactive drug that decreases synaptic transmission. THC binds to cannabinoid receptors, which results in the inhibition of the release of neurotransmitters from pre-synaptic neurons. If these neurons are reduced in concentration (for example, the neurotransmitter GABA), the result is an increase in dopamine release. Essentially, THC affects the cerebellum (motor functions), hippocampus (memory), and the cerebral cortex (higher level thinking).

Cocaine is an excitatory psychoactive drug that increases synaptic transmission. It binds to membrane proteins that pump dopamine into pre-synaptic neurons and causes an increase of dopamine. So cocaine technically causes euphoria, seeing as dopaminergic synapses are associated with pleasure. Of course, cocaine is also addictive, so the brain adjust and adapts to a regular consumption of dopamine by reducing dopamine receptors. This causes depression when an individual experiences cocaine withdrawal (or any drug withdrawal). Examples of cocaine? CRACK. The causes of this addiction include genetic predisposition, social factors, and dopamine secretion. That will be for later. For now, kids, don’t do drugs. Don’t even think about it.

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