Neurons and Drugs

Neurons and DrugsWhat we?re exploring this week is how neurons carry messages along their axon ?wires.? Neurons carry messages electrically, via a moving current of sodium ions.In order to carry messages, neurons need to maintain a resting potential (a difference in charge between inside and out), so that when voltage-gated sodium channels open, these sodium ions will rush in and propagate down the axon? This sudden influx of sodium initiates what we call the action potential ? that current of moving sodium.Keep in mind the big picture: what are these action potentials (electrical currents) telling our brains? They are carrying important messages about tissue damage (pain), and other aspects of our internal environment (nutrient levels, temperature, amount of glucose, etc.) and our external environment (vision, hearing, etc.). They are also carrying messages to muscles (for balance/coordination, breathing, changes in heart rate, etc.).They are carrying information.And to do this requires the manufacture (based on genetic instructions) and deployment of specific protein machines: voltage gated Na+ and K+ channels (which open at a specific threshold voltage), and the Na+/K+ pump (which maintains essential charge and concentration gradients, providing the "forces" necessary to drive Na+ into the cell).And drugs ? by acting at specific machines, by binding to specific machines and changing their structure in specific ways ? can have dramatic effects on function. They can change how neurons carry information, or whether some information gets carried at all.For post 1, please pick a protein machine important for the resting or action potential (sodium/potassium pump, voltage gated channel, etc.), and imagine a drug that might bind to it, cause it to change shape and thus change its normal function. How might your drug prove therapeutic ? or toxic?==========================A reminder regarding posting assignments in Psychology 265? **POSTS MUST BE IN YOUR OWN WORDS** Please be aware that plagiarism is a serious violation of academic integrity, and university policy, and may result in disciplinary action, including expulsion from the course. For more on the consequences of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, please visit the following website: http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/student-affairs/academic-dishonesty The definition of plagiarism, according to WSU-V policy: "Presenting the information, ideas, or phrasing of another person as the student?s own work without proper acknowledgment of the source. This includes submitting a commercially prepared paper or research project or submitting for academic credit any work done by someone else. The term "plagiarism" includes, but is not limited to, the use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment. It also includes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of term papers or other academic materials."!

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