PSYC62 Lecture 1
Midterm-35% (multiple choice)
Final Exam-45%(multiple choice, cumulative)
Writing Assignment-20%(4-5 page essay, can work with up to a maximum of three people)
Pharmacology vs. Psychopharmacology
Pharmacology: Examines the effects that drugs have on biological systems(includes nervous and non-
nervous tissue). Looks at how the body reacts to drugs, nature, and how drugs move through the body
(known as pharmakinetics).
Psychopharmacology: Looks at the effects that drugs have on behavior and mental processes, including
cognitions and emotions. It focuses on the interactions with nerve cells and receptors.
Psychopharmacology is the subdiscipline of pharmacology.
What is a Drug?
Difficult to define specifically, instead there are many definitions given:
A substance used in a medication or in the preparation of medication
A substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of
Something and often an illegal substance, that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked
change in consciousness
A substance that affects the structure or function of the body
A good definition: A substance or chemical that, when injested/injected for the purpose of altering
biological function, affects one or more biological processes
However, any endogenous chemical can affect bodily function and biological systems. In some cases,
drugs can be extracted and synthesized in order to reverse certain psychological/neurological disorders.
Example: L-DOPA, known to be used clinically to treat Parkinson ’s disease
Psychoactive Drugs: Chemicals that induce psychological effects by altering the normal biochemical that
takes place in the nervous system.
Humans have used drugs for the purposes of altering mood and behavior for thousands of years. Many
plants have been known to produce hallucinogens, suggests ancestors must have experimented.
Ancient practices included using cocaine extracted from cocoa leaves to combat fatigue and
elevate mood. th
The psychopharmacology revolution began in the mid-20 century. It was the discovery of the
drug Chlorpromazine that helped inspired it. It was found to reduce the core symptoms of
Schizophrenia, and it validated the finding that mental illness could be the result of changed
Other known contributors to psychopharmacology:
Lithium-Used as a mood stabilizer, but thought at times to be toxic
LSD-Treated a wide spectrum of disorders including alcoholism and sexual behavior.
Paradoxically it also triggers psychosis, but is markedly different from naturally occurring
Recreational and Social Drug Use
Most individuals in society, at one time or another use psychoactive substances recreationally.
In fact, lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use in individuals 12 and older is 46.1%. The highest
contributor to this is Marijuana and Hashish at 40.6%
Commonly used, non-illicit drugs include: Alcohol, Oxytocin, Nicotine, Caffeine
Commonly used, illicit drugs include: Heroin, Marijuana, Cocaine
Common Drug Classification Strategies:
Classification according to activation in the CNS(stimulants vs. depressants)
Classification according to primary medical use
Classification by basic neurochemical action
Classification by schedule of control
The Development of a New Drug
Sources of Drug Discovery:
1. Natural Resources (e.g. Soil, Plants, Sea) These are major sources of discovery. Penicillin and
painkillers are derived from soils and plants. Advances in technology help isolate sea chemicals
ex. Bacteria in jellyfish is now shown to be able to help fight cancer
2. Biochemical synthesis-Uses principles of receptor chemistry and specific neurochemicals
The discovery of new drugs occurs in 1 of 3 ways:
1. Rediscovery of ‘folk’ usages of various naturally occurring products e.g willow bark: used as a
remedy by Native Indians. Willow bark contains salicylic acid, the precursor to Advil.
2. Accidental observation of an expected drug effect. Occurs when the drug is used to treat one
thing, but also found later on to treat something else e.g ibogaine. While it was initially known
to combat fatigue, it also reverses cocaine effects.