PSYC E-1415 Dopamine
A Parkinson's victim regains control of her body with l-dopa. A schizophrenic man paralyzed by fear and hallucinations is freed from a mental institution by clozapine. A meth addict lies, cheats, and steals, ending up emaciated and dead. Miracles and monstrosities, all related to a single molecule—dopamine. The overall goal of this seminar is to focus on a single subject, a single chemical neurotransmitter, and remain on that topic to proceed through three phases of study, as follows. First, to orient students to tools from multiple traditional disciplines: synaptic mechanisms of neurotransmission, neuropharmacology, behavioral pharmacology, neuroanatomy, and psychiatry. Second, to elicit interest and curiosity through examples of specific and important disease states: Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, and drug addiction. Third, to gain a historical perspective by reviewing articles of recent years. The main discipline presented in this course is pharmacology, specifically, in vivo pharmacology and more specifically, behavioral pharmacology in humans. Pharmacology has played and continues to play a key role in the history of neuroscience, in many applications of clinical medicine, and in the relationships among mind, brain, and behavior.