Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology

Oxford University Press
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Introduction to Neuropsychopharmacology expands on the molecular and cellular foundations of the classic Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, Eighth Edition (Cooper, Bloom, and Roth) by now including the behavioral methods used to study psychoactive drugs in experimental animals and in humans. Authored by four founders of modern neuroscience, this concise and comprehensive text covers the current series of medications used to treat diseases of the brain and nervous system--both psychiatric and neurologic--as well as legal and illegal recreational drugs and the neuroscientific information that explains how these medications act on the brain from the molecular to the clinical level. The text ranges from drugs that affect the mood and behavior to hypnotics, narcotics, anticonvulsants, and analgesics.
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Oxford University Press
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Published on
Dec 12, 2008
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Medical / Neuroscience
Medical / Psychiatry / Psychopharmacology
Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience
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Eligible for Family Library

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Adult and child psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, and dementia, represent a large source of disability in the general population. The urgency to develop new treatments that may have better efficacy and tolerance is explained by the fact that none of the treatments currently available can be considered completely satisfying. Several reasons underlie this relative failure, such as, for example, (1) lack of knowledge of the mechanisms involved, (2) heterogeneity of most psychiatric disorders (that have good inter-rater validity but weak relationship with specific neurobiological mechanisms), (3) variable tolerance that leads to poor compliance, and (4) insufficient prediction for a specific treated patient of the efficacy, side effects, and outcome associated with the prescribed treatments.

Furthermore, from an economical point of view, psychiatric disorders are now the most expensive disorders to treat. The costs associated with mental illnesses, which constitute a significant percentage of the total direct health care costs, are currently estimated above $100 billion (USD), representing $1,605 per person per year in the U.S. (9% of the gross national product).

Prediction of efficacy, prevention of major side effects, and selection of the most appropriate treatment should thus have major medical and economical impacts. The pharmacogenetics devoted to psychotropic drugs (psychopharmacogenetics) will help to further develop these points.

The psychopharmacogenetic field represents an important area of research that is based on various specialties including clinical psychiatry, pharmacology, neurobiology and genetics. However, data issued from such relevant investigations are frequently, for clinicians as for scientists, rather obscure and/or scattered.

In this book, the basic and advanced knowledge on psychiatric disorders will be provided for non-clinicians: What is schizophrenia? What are the risk factors? What are the core symptoms? How is it treated? What are the efficacy and side effects of the available treatments and their mechanisms? Are there already some psychopharmacogenetic data useful in clinical practice?

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The first six volumes of the Handbook reviewed basic neuropharmacology, drawing on expertise in biochemistry, pharmacology and electrophysiology. The next three volumes focus attention on the functional importance of these basic neuropharmacological mechanisms for normal behavior. In order to study this interface in the intact functioning organism, appropriate methods for describing and quantifying behavior must be developed. The past twenty years have witnessed a revolution in the study of behavior which has taken us away from the often fruitless theoretical arguments to descriptive behaviorism. Technical achievements in the design of apparatus and the recording of behavior played an important role in these developments, and the resultant behavioral methods have been accepted and found useful in studying the effects of drugs. The development of psycho pharmacology as a discipline owes as much to these behavioral methods as it does to the basic neuropharmacological techniques pioneered for in vitro studies. In the first section of Volume 7, an effort has been made to provide reviews both of theory and practice in behavioral science. Milner's chapter deals with the concept of motivation in a theoretical framework. By contrast, the chapters by Morse et al. and Dews and DeWeese provide a more descriptive view of the various ways in which aversive stimuli control behavior and the importance of schedules of reinforcement in determining the profile of responding in the animal. The equal importance of observational behav ioral methods is well illustrated by Mackintosh et al.
A clinical psychiatrist explores the effects of DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelics known.

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From 1990 to 1995 Dr. Rick Strassman conducted U.S. Government-approved and funded clinical research at the University of New Mexico in which he injected sixty volunteers with DMT, one of the most powerful psychedelics known. His detailed account of those sessions is an extraordinarily riveting inquiry into the nature of the human mind and the therapeutic potential of psychedelics. DMT, a plant-derived chemical found in the psychedelic Amazon brew, ayahuasca, is also manufactured by the human brain. In Strassman's volunteers, it consistently produced near-death and mystical experiences. Many reported convincing encounters with intelligent nonhuman presences, aliens, angels, and spirits. Nearly all felt that the sessions were among the most profound experiences of their lives.

Strassman's research connects DMT with the pineal gland, considered by Hindus to be the site of the seventh chakra and by Rene Descartes to be the seat of the soul. DMT: The Spirit Molecule makes the bold case that DMT, naturally released by the pineal gland, facilitates the soul's movement in and out of the body and is an integral part of the birth and death experiences, as well as the highest states of meditation and even sexual transcendence. Strassman also believes that "alien abduction experiences" are brought on by accidental releases of DMT. If used wisely, DMT could trigger a period of remarkable progress in the scientific exploration of the most mystical regions of the human mind and soul.
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