Course description

This course helps students understand the psychological and physiological effects of substance abuse and how drug actions can be understood in terms of effects on the brain. The course focuses on neuroanatomical structures such as the nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area, and other structures implicated in drug addiction. Emphasis is placed on the role of multimodal neuroimaging in drug abuse. It also combines neurotransmitter-based approaches to the field with perspectives that emphasize specific drugs and distinct drug categories. Specifically, this course includes an overview of the history of psychopharmacology; the neuron, synaptic transmission, and neurotransmitters; pharmacokinetics, or how the body handles drugs; pharmacodynamics, or how drugs act; epidemiology and neurobiology of addiction; stimulants; hallucinogens; cannabinoids; opioids; antipsychotic drugs; and antidepressant drugs. In addition to focusing on drug dependence and addiction, this course places considerable emphasis on drug treatments for various psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, parkinsonism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


  • Instructor in Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
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