This week’s lecture focused on “Chemical Control of the Brain and Behaviour”.
We started off by taking the quiz related to the topic and proceeded to quickly revise what we had learned so far about neurotransmission. This included, for example: the definition of neurotransmitter; glutamate’s function, receptors and toxicity (as well as GABA’s); how does the synapse mediated acetylcholine work, and what is the influence of serotonin on a person’s mood.
We then carried on to talk about the acetylcholinergic pathways, one of the “diffuse bran systems”. It was taught that Ach cell death is related to Alzheimer’s disease, and also that some acetylcholinergic neurons are involved in sensory learning.
Catecholaminergic neurons were also a topic of discussion, as they are neurons that contain dopamine or noradrenaline, and are related to Parkinson’s disease. Following the theme, we learned that the noradrenaline pathway is also another one of the diffuse brain systems. This pathway is related to the intensification of stimuli, as well as to a person’s mood and, therefore, clinical depression. On the other hand, dopamine pathways are involved in, for example, learning, reward system, and motivation.
The serotonin system consists of several pathways working together, as, once again, one of the diffuse bran systems. Serotonin is sensory processing, as well as emotional processing. Some evidence claims low levels of serotonin point towards depression and fatigue.
Finally, the hypothalamus and pituitary and their roles in using hormones as neuromodulators; oxytocin’ and vasopressin’s function; and the mechanics of the stress response were some of the other topics covered in the lecture.
There was no exercise session this week, and for the next lecture, we are meant to read chapter 11 (Auditory System).