Drugs, Brain and Behaviour (C8528)

15 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

Drugs, Brain and Behaviour offers you an overview to the psychological, pharmacological, neurobiological and neurophysiological bases of drug use, abuse and contemporary understanding of addiction (and some mental conditions), and has a strong natural science (neuroscience) orientation. The acute and long-term effects of selected drugs of abuse on behaviour, mood, cognition and neuronal function are discussed using empirical findings and theoretical developments from both human and non-human subject studies on the neurobiological and psychological basis of drug action and addiction.

The module will discuss the anatomical, neurochemical and cell-molecular mechanisms targeted by psychoactive drugs and their distribution, regulation and integration in the broader central nervous system. The focus is on potentially addictive drugs, and the major classes are discussed, including opiates (heroin and morphine), psychomotor stimulants (amphetamine and cocaine), sedative-hypnotics (alcohol, barbiturates and chloral hydrate), anxiolytics (benzodiazepines), marijuana, hallucinogens (LSD, mescaline) and hallucinogenic-stimulants (MDA, MDMA). Critically, with the knowledge of the basic neurobiological and behavioural pharmacology of these drugs 'in hand', contemporary theories and understanding of mental conditions, substance abuse and addiction are considered, focusing on key concepts related to (drug) experience-dependent neuroplasticity, drug-induced neurotoxicity, associative learning, neuronal ensembles and the synaptic basis of learning and plasticity, habit formation and impulse-control.

This module builds on knowledge gained in the core psychology modules C8003: Psychobiology and C8518: Brain and Behaviour. If you are not enrolled on the BSc Psychology course at Sussex you are expected to be familiar with the material covered in these modules.

Teaching

100%: Lecture

Assessment

50%: Coursework (Test)
50%: Examination (Unseen examination)

Contact hours and workload

This module is 150 hours of work. This breaks down into 44 hours of contact time and 106 hours of independent study.

This module is running in the academic year 2019/20. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.