Describe actions at the neural cell membrane including the resting membrane potential and the action potential. What maintains the resting membrane potential, and what forces work against it? What ionic movements occur (in and out of the cell) in the course of the action potential and what changes in membrane charge (potential) occur at depolarization, re-polarization and hyper-polarization? What role does myelin play in the movement of the action potential? When the action potential reaches the end of the axon, which ion comes rushing in to prompt neurotransmitter release into the synaptic cleft? Finally, how do astrocytes contribute to the GABA and glutamate neurotransmitter systems?
Compare and contrast the neural mechanisms and behavioral effects of nicotine, amphetamine, cocaine, methamphetamine and caffeine. Which neurotransmitter systems are involved in the effects of each substance, what are the usual administration routes? How does route of administration influence the behavioral effects? What effect (if any) might lipid solubility have on the ability of various substances to affect brain and behavior? Finally, discuss the historical relevance of the legality/illegality of these substances. Were things always as they are now?