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Course Work - Essay Example

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Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that our body releases to allow the transmission of electrical nerve signals from one neuron onto another by moving across synapses and they are found in the axon endings of the motor neurons where their job is to stimulate the muscle fibers…
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Course Work
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What are the similarities and differences between neurotransmitters and hormones?
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that our body releases to allow the transmission of electrical nerve signals from one neuron onto another by moving across synapses and they are found in the axon endings of the motor neurons where their job is to stimulate the muscle fibers into action. Synapses are specialized junctions which the signals help the neurons make a circuit in the central nervous system. They are two kinds of hormones, endocrine and exocrine. The endocrine hormones are released directly into the blood stream while the exocrine are secreted in a duct where they flow in the cells through a diffusion process which is known as paracrine signaling.
One basic similarity between the two is that that both are chemicals that are secreted inside our bodies.
While the differences are that while hormones are produced by the endocrine system in our body neurotransmitters are created at nerve terminals and they need to be triggered by an electrical impulse sent by the brain. Hormones have to be secreted directly into the bloodstream since they can only travel short distances where the neurotransmitters are secreted at the nerve synapse. The hormones can be synthesized artificially outside the body and neurotransmitters have to make inside the body.
2. What are some mechanisms whereby a drug of abuse can increase the activity of dopamine transmitter systems in the brain?
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure centers which also helps to regulate emotions and movement. It functions to help us see pleasurable things and also attracts us towards them. Drugs like cocaine affect the dopamine in the brain and make it work better and faster so people get addicted to the sensation of being drugged.
What might a drug of abuse that damages the associative cortex make the user especially vulnerable to addiction?
The association cortex is the cerebral cortex located outside the primary areas of the brain and it is needed to perform essential mental tasks that are more complicated than the detection of dimensions of sensory stimulation. In the animal kingdom, the cerebral cortex is more developed in the humans than any other species since it is absolutely necessary for perceptual activities like recognizing and understanding the differences in objects rather than edges or color. Repeated drug abuse causes damage in the association cortex which tends to signal the brain to produce a ‘happy sensation’ with drug abuse. Most of the time, the people may not be technically addicted to the drug itself however the emotional response that it produces brings pleasure to the body and mind. Since the cortex is damaged by substance abuse, the ‘happy’ sensation is not produced until the drug is taken so it makes the user vulnerable. These responses can be produced by narcotics, heroin and cocaine and alcohol.
"We now know that many of the drugs of abuse target not just those aspects of the brain that alter things like emotion, but also areas that affect our ability to control cognitive operations," says Herb Weingartner, PhD, of the Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
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"Indiana University." Indiana University. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2012. . Read More
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