Drugs, The Brain, Behavior

This activity will help you to understand the relationship between drugs, the areas of the brain that are affected, and how behavioral outcomes depend on these areas of the brain. Answers can vary on this activity based on which drug you choose.

  1. Select one drug (legal or illegal) that you are interested in knowing more about.
  2. How is this drug classified (stimulant, opiate, hallucinogen, or depressant)?
  3. How does this drug affect neurotransmitters (increases release, decreases release, mimics, blocks reuptake)? In some cases one or more may apply.
  4. What specific neurotransmitter(s) does the drug affect?
  5. What behaviors (select from the ‘Behaviors’ list) could a person exhibit as a result of using this drug? (Pick at least three from the list that are most likely).
  6. Based on the behaviors you choose, which specific brain structures do you think are affected by the drug (use the ‘Structure Table’ to help you)? More specifically, which brain structures correspond with the behaviors? Make sure the brain structures correspond to the appropriate lines to match the behaviors you listed in question #5; for example, the Cerebral Cortex is associated with the relaxation of body muscles. Note that the structure may not exist in the table, as it is just for reference.

Behavior list

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  • Relaxation of body muscles
  • High sensitivity to sensations
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart beat
  • Euphoria (feeling of extreme pleasure)
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Coma
  • Speech impairment
  • Intense emotions
  • Hallucinations
  • Relaxed euphoria (between waking and sleeping)
  • Anxiety relief
  • Impaired decision making
  • Death
  • Slowing of time
  • Alert/Wakefulness
  • Tremors

Structure Table

Structure Function Location
Cerebral Cortex Sensation, perception, and body movement Forebrain
Corpus Callosum Connects cerebral hemispheres Forebrain
Thalamus Receives and relays sensory information Forebrain
Hypothalamus Regulates eating, drinking, and sexual responses Forebrain
Amygdala Forming, recognizing, and remembering emotional experiences Forebrain
Hippocampus Memories Forebrain
Midbrain Makes connections between forebrain and hindbrain Midbrain
Pons Makes chemicals for sleeping Hindbrain
Cerebellum Coordinates voluntary movements Hindbrain
Medulla Controls vital reflexes Hindbrain

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