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Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology 

Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology
Chapter:
Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology
Author(s):

Leslie L. Iversen

, Susan D. Iversen

, Floyd E. Bloom

, and Robert H. Roth

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780195380538.003.0009
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date: 29 May 2020

Neuropsychopharmacology is the branch of neurosciences devoted to the study of drugs that affect nervous tissue and alter behaviors. Specifically, the study of the effects of drugs on neurons, their synapses, and circuits is neuropharmacology (see Chapter 2), while the study of the effects of drugs on behaviors, including emotional and cognitive mental activities, is psycho-pharmacology (see Chapter 3); thus, these comprise neuropsychopharmacology in toto. This text purposely constrains the coverage of such drugs to those that are currently employed by practicing physicians to treat diseases of the brain and nervous system, ranging from psychotropic drugs that affect mood and behavior to anesthetics, sedatives, hypnotics, narcotics, anticonvulsants, and analgesics, as well as a variety of drugs that affect the autonomic nervous system. Although the precise mechanisms of action of many such drugs remain to be determined, this coverage views their actions from the perspective of the chemical messengers that serve to communicate signals between neurons, namely the neurotransmitters. With those anchor points, we seek to explain the ways in which systems of interconnected neurons may be regulated by the drugs to change behaviors such as cognitive performance, emotions, and appetite and combat the addictive properties of abused drugs.

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