A5  Neuropharmacology

big ninja

Essential Idea:

Communication between neurons can be altered through the

manipulation of the release and reception of chemical messengers


  • Some neurotransmitters excite nerve impulses in postsynaptic neurons and others inhibit them
  • Nerve impulses are initiated or inhibited in postsynaptic neurons as a result of summation of all excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters received from presynaptic neurons
  • Many different slow acting neurotransmitters modulate fast synaptic transmission in the brain
  • Memory and learning involve changes in neurons caused by slow-acting neurotransmitters
  • Psychoactive drugs affect the brain by either increasing or decreasing postsynaptic transmission
  • Anaesthetics act by interfering with neural transmission between areas of sensory perception and the CNS
  • Stimulant drugs mimic the stimulation provided by the sympathetic nervous system
  • Addiction can be affected by genetic predisposition, social environment and dopamine secretion


  • Effects on the nervous system of two stimulants and two sedatives
  • The effect of anaesthetics on awareness
  • Endorphins can act as painkillers


  • Evaluation of data showing the impact of MDMA (ecstasy) on serotonin and dopamine metabolism in the brain