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The synaptic space between two neurons is shown. Some neurotransmitters that have been released into the synapse are attaching to receptors while others undergo reuptake into the axon terminal.
Reuptake involves moving a neurotransmitter from the synapse back into the axon terminal from which it was released.

Neuronal communication is often referred to as an electrochemical event. The movement of the action potential down the length of the axon is an electrical event, and movement of the neurotransmitter across the synaptic space represents the chemical portion of the process.

Neurotransmitters and drugs

There are several different types of neurotransmitters released by different neurons, and we can speak in broad terms about the kinds of functions associated with different neurotransmitters ( [link] ). Much of what psychologists know about the functions of neurotransmitters comes from research on the effects of drugs in psychological disorders. Psychologists who take a biological perspective    and focus on the physiological causes of behavior assert that psychological disorders like depression and schizophrenia are associated with imbalances in one or more neurotransmitter systems. In this perspective, psychotropic medications can help improve the symptoms associated with these disorders. Psychotropic medications are drugs that treat psychiatric symptoms by restoring neurotransmitter balance.

Major neurotransmitters and how they affect behavior
Neurotransmitter Involved in Potential Effect on Behavior
Acetylcholine Muscle action, memory Increased arousal, enhanced cognition
Beta-endorphin Pain, pleasure Decreased anxiety, decreased tension
Dopamine Mood, sleep, learning Increased pleasure, suppressed appetite
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) Brain function, sleep Decreased anxiety, decreased tension
Glutamate Memory, learning Increased learning, enhanced memory
Norepinephrine Heart, intestines, alertness Increased arousal, suppressed appetite
Serotonin Mood, sleep Modulated mood, suppressed appetite

Psychoactive drugs can act as agonists or antagonists for a given neurotransmitter system. Agonists are chemicals that mimic a neurotransmitter at the receptor site and, thus, strengthen its effects. An antagonist    , on the other hand, blocks or impedes the normal activity of a neurotransmitter at the receptor. Agonist and antagonist drugs are prescribed to correct the specific neurotransmitter imbalances underlying a person’s condition. For example, Parkinson's disease, a progressive nervous system disorder, is associated with low levels of dopamine. Therefore dopamine agonists, which mimic the effects of dopamine by binding to dopamine receptors, are one treatment strategy.

Certain symptoms of schizophrenia are associated with overactive dopamine neurotransmission. The antipsychotics used to treat these symptoms are antagonists for dopamine—they block dopamine’s effects by binding its receptors without activating them. Thus, they prevent dopamine released by one neuron from signaling information to adjacent neurons.

In contrast to agonists and antagonists, which both operate by binding to receptor sites, reuptake inhibitors prevent unused neurotransmitters from being transported back to the neuron. This leaves more neurotransmitters in the synapse for a longer time, increasing its effects. Depression, which has been consistently linked with reduced serotonin levels, is commonly treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). By preventing reuptake, SSRIs strengthen the effect of serotonin, giving it more time to interact with serotonin receptors on dendrites. Common SSRIs on the market today include Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. The drug LSD is structurally very similar to serotonin, and it affects the same neurons and receptors as serotonin. Psychotropic drugs are not instant solutions for people suffering from psychological disorders. Often, an individual must take a drug for several weeks before seeing improvement, and many psychoactive drugs have significant negative side effects. Furthermore, individuals vary dramatically in how they respond to the drugs. To improve chances for success, it is not uncommon for people receiving pharmacotherapy to undergo psychological and/or behavioral therapies as well. Some research suggests that combining drug therapy with other forms of therapy tends to be more effective than any one treatment alone (for one such example, see March et al., 2007).

Summary

Glia and neurons are the two cell types that make up the nervous system. While glia generally play supporting roles, the communication between neurons is fundamental to all of the functions associated with the nervous system. Neuronal communication is made possible by the neuron’s specialized structures. The soma contains the cell nucleus, and the dendrites extend from the soma in tree-like branches. The axon is another major extension of the cell body; axons are often covered by a myelin sheath, which increases the speed of transmission of neural impulses. At the end of the axon are terminal buttons that contain synaptic vesicles filled with neurotransmitters.

Neuronal communication is an electrochemical event. The dendrites contain receptors for neurotransmitters released by nearby neurons. If the signals received from other neurons are sufficiently strong, an action potential will travel down the length of the axon to the terminal buttons, resulting in the release of neurotransmitters into the synapse. Action potentials operate on the all-or-none principle and involve the movement of Na + and K + across the neuronal membrane.

Different neurotransmitters are associated with different functions. Often, psychological disorders involve imbalances in a given neurotransmitter system. Therefore, psychotropic drugs are prescribed in an attempt to bring the neurotransmitters back into balance. Drugs can act either as agonists or as antagonists for a given neurotransmitter system.

Personal application queation

Have you or someone you know ever been prescribed a psychotropic medication? If so, what side effects were associated with the treatment?

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Questions & Answers

what is Type Approach?
Tejaswi Reply
Hello who is wilhelm wundt
the father of psychology
Shannon
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Michelle
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Arubaku
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Cameron Reply
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Michelle
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omer Reply
types of research used in today's society
omer
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Namwanje Reply
being able to state things just how they're, especially if the only source of facts is one's self.
queefburgler
Healthcare professionals often work in rotating shifts. Why is this problematic? What can be done to deal with potential problems?
Anna Reply
The core problem is the absence Good governance system
Waaya
ONLY BUDGET CONSUMING RATHER THAN WORKING GOOD HEALTH SERVICES FOR COMMUNITY BY LEADERS
Waaya
NO REALITY BUT THERE ARE FALSE BASED REALITY
Waaya
There isn't enough information to give a true response. However, I do agree with Waaya with one thing... and that's everything begins, rises, and falls with Leadership. A proper governance system is key in everyhing from the Macro, to the Micro alike. Without Governance, there is no order, etc.
Jonah
the rotating shifts interwine with their real life problems , causing frequent arguments within a family and could lead to mental illness or a operation between the parents
omer
*seperation
omer
why is stress chronic?
Abhimanyu Reply
working conditions at work today
Namwanje Reply
working conditions at work
Namwanje
I work in Afghanistan. Work conditions are interesting. 😊
Jonah
what's it like where you work?
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queefburgler
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Jonah
who gets anxiety disorders and how common are they?
Karen Reply
I have generalized anxiety and I've had it for almost 12 years
Harley
I've had it for idk how long but I finally went and got diagnosed 3 years ago. it's pretty common actually
Shannon
I have anxiety with secondary depression, basically meaning my anxiety spirals into depression and depressive thoughts
Shannon
depression always start with anxiety......after some year when we are unable to tackle the anxiety....the anxiety converted into depression...b
Sahni
becoz in anxiety a person always unable to taking decision and adjustment with situation et all
Sahni
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Sahni
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Frank Reply
Not at all, how are you?
Shannon
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zaynab
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Frank
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Shannon
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queefburgler
I just wanted to have a conversation.
Frank
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Michelle
you too Michelle. currently I'm writing a lab report so you could say I'm studying too
queefburgler
Kind of like that. We are having a wonderful day, dude.
Frank
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queefburgler
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queefburgler
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Frank
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queefburgler
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Michelle
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Naomi
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Oh,Bonjour. I know some words in french.
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Frank
I'm from Texas currently attending hcc majoring psychology.
Pakayla
and lol Queef.. "the giant orange Cheeto..."
Pakayla
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Marco
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queefburgler
You can't milk a cow for 18 years
Marco
solid.
queefburgler
hi can u eleborate it further?
LEARN Reply
can I get an explanation on the second requirement which was the use of repeatable stimuli?
Daniel Reply
what is psyche
EVANS Reply
psyche is the study of man, man as a being living in the over-world change, responding to thingsand events and other people.
ayman
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Hunny
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Hunny
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Hunny
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Clinton
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Odey
yes
JIGNA
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JIGNA
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JIGNA
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Gel
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keenu
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keenu
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Becca
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Aditya
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ayman
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Hunny
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Hello
Olukunle
Hello
Dungrani
Tell me some facts about developmental psychlogy
Hasham
what is educational psychology? tell me?
Sonai
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Louisiana Reply
psychology= scientific study of the mind and behavior
Louisiana
Associated to outside stimuli or internal.
Rob
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Elizabeth
it is the study of human nature. it is the study of man, man as a being living in an over-changing world, responding to things and events and other people.
ayman
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Sonai
Cognition is more about knowing. Learning, for instance, changes or at least has some effect on cognitive style. And Constructivism is more of a method or way to know and learn. This is the way I see these concepts. If you may please, tell me, have I got them correct?
Vijay Reply
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Will
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Hunny
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Will
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Source:  OpenStax, Psychology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 03, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11629/1.5
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