The study of how drugs affect the nervous system is called neuropharmacology. Pharmacology is a field that really fascinates me, and I am actually getting a minor in it. Eventually I want to do pharmacological research on addiction and drug dependence, mainly on ways to prevent or limit dependency.
Drugs can utilize different mechanisms to affect the nervous system. In particular, I chose to examine the pharmacodynamics of Adderall, a drug that is used to help treat ADHD. Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These drugs directly act upon the mesolimbic pathway in the brain. The compounds bind to monoamine transporters in the plasma membrane of neurons, which prevents the neurons from uptaking neurotransmitters from the extracellular matrix. Consequently this increases the extracellular levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
In high dosages, Adderall can also inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxydase A, which is responsible for the breakdown of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.