Sadly the excursion that was planned for this week got postponed due to scheduling issues, so this week consisted of a lecture as well as an exercise session that was supposed to introduce the python-based problem.
After having studied the basic structure of neurons and the principles behind synapses the past couple of weeks, it was interesting to finally go a bit deeper into the topic and learn about neurotransmitters. The basic functions of them were introduced already in the previous lectures so this week dealt mostly on the classes they are divided into, the most common neurotransmitters and their functions. One of the most interesting topic was the recent studies on the function the opioidergic system plays on behavioral reinforcement and social behaviour overall. We take so many things as given; for example, it does not surprise us that alcohol might make us more social, and many times people use it as a way to become more social and feel more confident. Having thought it was primarily due to becoming more relaxed, it was fascinating to find out that it might be related to alcohol releasing beta endorphin, which again strengthens social behaviour by modulating the opioidergic processing in the brain.