Drugs, Brain, and Behavior [Psyc 126]


In today's society, drugs and their use present a social paradox, combining the potential for good and for bad. Most of us, at one time or another, have taken a psychoactive drugs, that is, any drug that alters our behavior, mood, motor, sensory, or cognitive abilities, yet few of us actually understand the relationships between drugs, their mechanisms of action in the nervous system, and our behavior.

The objective of this course is to introduce you to the chemical basis of human behavior and how various drugs influence both the biological and psychological make-up of a person. While we are primarily the beneficiaries of this influence, we can easily become its victim without a knowledge of drugs, their actions, and their applications.

To accomplish our objective, we will begin with an introduction to the basics of pharmacology and the chemical basis of our nervous system. We will then evaluate each of the major drugs classifications, emphasizing the biological, clinical, and social dimensions of their actions and applications.

The goal of this course is to facilitate a basic understanding of the pharmacology, clinical manifestations, and social dimensions of common drugs. By the end of the course, you should minimally have a basic understanding of...

  • The principles of pharmacology
  • The biological mechanisms of action for the most common drugs
  • The psychological, behavioral, and social impact of some of the most common drugs
  • The empirical rationale for your own personal drug policy