E4: Neurotransmitters and Synapses

Review Nerves content from the Core before completing this topic.

Class presentation:

Essential Biology E4: Neurotransmitters and Synapses

The New Science of Addiction: Genetics and The Brain

From Learn.Genetics

Fantastic resources available from Utah, including the mouse party, neuron and synapse animations and an interactive involving pedigree charts and the role of genetics in addiction.

Spend some time here to really read around the subject of drugs and addiction – you’ll be glad you did and it really helps answer the ‘discuss the causes of addiction’ question!

Drugs and The Brain

jellinek.png

Jellinek is a Dutch drugs education website that has some great, accessible resources for neurobiology of drugs and the brain. Animations are available in multiple languages – why can’t more organisations be as internationally-minded as this?

Be patient though -it needs a lot of bandwidth.

Neurotransmitters and Drugs:

Good powerpoint from HHMI

Excellent overview of effects of drugs (Harvard)

Amphetamines, Cocaine, Nicotine as excitatory psychoactives (McGill ‘The Brain’)

Benzodiazepines, Cannabis, Alcohol as inhibitory psychoactives (McGill ‘The Brain’)

TOK and Biology: The Nutt-Sack Affair

Leader of advisory panel on drug safety sacked for disagreeing with UK government:

http://www.badscience.net/2009/11/the-nutt-sack-affair-part-493/

Read around the topic, and then answer these questions:

Nutt's Scale of Drugs

  1. How does this story show the conflict between science and politics?
  2. What do you feel the respective roles of science and politics should be in the government of a country?
  3. Suggest reasons why some drugs which are clearly very harmful, such as tobacco and alcohol, are still legal in many countries.
  4. If you were to form a new country and write a whole new set of drug laws, which would you make illegal or legal and why? Upon which sources of evidence would you rely in order to make your decisions? How would you balance political pressures with scientific evidence?

Find out more about drug laws and the rationale behind them in your own country and the countries you visit or live in.

Remember – regardless of your own opinion on drug laws, if you are caught breaking the law wherever you are, penalties can be very severe.

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About Stephen

Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator at Canadian Academy, Kobe, Japan. Formerly MYP HS Science & IBDP Bio teacher and missing it terribly. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer.

Posted on February 2, 2010, in Ethics, Nerves and Synapses, Neurobiology & Behaviour and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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