Mini Cases in Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain
Christopher Newport University
Designed for an upper-level psychology class titled Brain & Behavior, this series of mini-cases can be used in any undergraduate course that covers the major classes of commonly abused legal and illicit psychoactive drugs from a biological standpoint, i.e., understanding how these drugs affect the brain. Each case presents a scenario that college-level students can relate to about an individual using each of the major drug classes (stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, etc.). Students are then asked to determine what drug each of the cases is referring to, the subjective effects of the drug that have been reported, and what the biological mechanisms of the drug are, which they present to the class.
- Identify the different classes of psychoactive drugs of abuse.
- Explain and identify the major neurotransmitters, receptors, transporters, and brain structures involved in the mechanism of action of drugs of abuse.
- Identify the subjective effects of psychoactive drugs of abuse.
- Expand upon students' research abilities through the use of other sources besides the textbook.
- Apply biologically related research findings to a real-life scenario.
- Synthesize and present research findings in an understandable way to the rest of the class in order to hone the student's public speaking abilities and enhance peer-led learning
KeywordsSubstance use; drug abuse; addictive drugs; addiction mechanism; stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens; neurotransmitter; brain; central nervous system
Educational LevelUndergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDiscussion, Mini-Case, Student Presentations
Subject HeadingsNeuroscience | Psychology | Pharmacy / Pharmacology | Biology (General) | Physiology | Public Health |