Caffeine

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I believe that of the fields we covered, the one that will make the greatest strides in the coming years is that of biological psychology; I also find it the most interesting. The process that neurotransmitters undergo is specifically fascinating.
Neurotransmitters are contained in synaptic vesicles with in the axxon terminal. They stay there un till an action potential triggers the synaptic vessels to release certain neurotransmitters into the synapse. Once in the synapse each neurotransmitter either bonds with its specific receptor site on another cells dendrite or they undergo reuptake and return to the axxon terminal. When each neurotransmitter bonds with its receptor site it sends a specific message based on what type of neurotransmitter it is.
The study of neurotransmitters in important because it allows us to understand the chemicals in our brains and our process of thinking. On a more advanced level it allows us to manipulate the chemicals in our head through the use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals. This can bring us closer to cures for depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, Parkinson's, etc., than ever before.
Without even realizing it, I, currently, am exhibiting the benefits of biological psychology. I'm am drinking coffee, which contains caffeine, the most widely used psychoactive drug on the planet [3]. Right now, I've been awake for quite some time, and should be tired but I'm not, thanks to caffeine. Caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor; adenosine being an inhibiting neurotransmitter that "causes drowsiness by slowing down nerve cell activity". Since adenosine receptor sites are occupied by the caffeine, I feel wide awake. So now I have "increased neuronal firing" in my brain, my pituitary gland senses this and releases a hormone causing the release of epinephrine having a number of effects on my functioning [2], all of which make me feel alert. Finally, caffeine releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to reward and pleasure [4].
The caffeine leaves me alert, functioning at a higher level and feeling good [2], the perfect condition to write a psychology blog post.


[1] http://iospress.metapress.com/content/m1584043445mx427/fulltext.pdf
[2]http://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine.htm
[3]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTVE5iPMKLg
[4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjH8_hHtumo

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This page contains a single entry by obrie833 published on October 2, 2011 11:20 PM.

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