The University of Southampton
Courses

BIOL6036 Neuropharmacology of CNS Disorders

Module Overview

This module is to describe basic concepts in neuropharmacology e.g. on the localisation and putative function of neurotransmitter pathways in the brain and to use this knowledge to consider different theories relating to the biochemical basis of action of psychotomimetic and psychotropic drugs. This is used as a foundation to consider the biochemical basis of major psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and neurodevelopmental disorders e.g. autism spectrum disorders. It will progress to highlight emerging opportunities for treatment of psychiatric conditions.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to describe basic concepts in neuropharmacology e.g. on the localisation and putative function of neurotransmitter pathways in the brain and to use this knowledge to consider different theories relating to the biochemical basis of action of psychotomimetic and psychotropic drugs. This is used as a foundation to consider the biochemical basis of major psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, depression and anxiety and neurodevelopmental disorders e.g. autism spectrum disorders. It will progress to highlight emerging opportunities for treatment of psychiatric conditions.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Provide an overview of neurotransmitter systems in the brain and their putative functional roles
  • Use examples of psychotomimetic and psychotropic drugs to discuss the biochemical basis of mood and behaviour
  • Describe the various techniques used to investigate CNS disorders and to assess their limitations
  • Assess the hypotheses put forward to explain the neurochemical and neurophysiological bases for the following: schizophrenia, affective disorders, drug addiction and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Describe the treatments used in these disorders, their efficacy and side-effects
  • An appreciation of the current limitations in assigning diagnoses for psychiatric disorders, the current challenges they pose for therapy and the opportunities for progress in this field.
  • An ability to evaluate and debate conflicting opinions and data relevant to the assessment and management of psychiatric conditions in society.

Syllabus

The module provides an introduction to functional brain anatomy and important neurotransmitter signalling pathways. This is used as a framework on which to describe the symptoms and treatment of brain disorders with a particular focus on a subset of psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia. The possible underlying causes of these disorders, and advances in therapy, are discussed in the light of the most recent research in these topics. Students will be expected to attend fortnightly neuroscience research seminars.

Special Features

• Students will attend scheduled neuroscience research seminars. • Students will participate in a debate centred on hot topic in neuropharmacology and psychiatric treatments. • Following the debate students will be set a take-away paper which will assess their ability to evaluate conflicting opinions in the field. • Students are also encouraged to enter into informal discussions with teaching staff to facilitate learning of core principles of neuropharmacology.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, independent study, short practise essay, examination skills workshop, debating workshop, research seminars

TypeHours
Lecture25
Independent Study125
Total study time150

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Contributions to debate and discussion 5%
Take-away paper  (1500 words) 30%
Written exam  (2 hours) 65%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 35%
Written exam  (2 hours) 65%

Linked modules

PRE-REQ = BIOL2016, AND BIOL2017 OR MEDI6221

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