introduction to neuroscience


Post a response to each of the following:

  1. Explain the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents.
  2. Compare and contrast the actions of g couple proteins and ion gated channels.
  3. Explain the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action.
  4. Explain how this information may impact the way you prescribe medications to clients. Include a specific example of a situation or case with a client in which the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner must be aware of the medication’s action.

Week 1: Introduction to Neuroscience

Modern psychopharmacology is largely the story of chemical neurotransmission. To understand the actions of drugs on the brain, to grasp the impact of diseases on the central nervous system, and to interpret the behavioral consequences of psychiatric medicines, one must be fluent in the language and principles of neurotransmission.

—Dr. Stephen M. Stahl in Stahl’s Essential Psychopharmacology

By using a combination of psychotherapy and medication therapy, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners are positioned to provide a very unique type of care to clients with psychiatric disorders. To be successful in this role, you must have a strong theoretical foundation in pathophysiology, psychopharmacology, and neuroscience. This foundation will help you assess, diagnose, and treat clients as you relate presenting symptoms to theoretical neuronal functioning.

This week, as you begin to study psychopharmacology, you explore foundational neuroscience. You examine the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents, compare the actions of g couple proteins to ion gated channels, and consider the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action.

Note: In previous courses, the term “patient” was used to describe the person receiving medical care. In traditional medicine and nursing, this term is used to describe the person you do something to, and it often refers to a passive recipient of care and services. As you move into the realm of psychiatric mental health, a transition will occur. You will work with individuals who are active participants in their care, and these individuals are generally referred to as “clients” as opposed to “patients.” It is important to note that the term “client” is also favored in other mental health disciplines, such as psychiatry, psychology, and social work.

Photo Credit: [cgtoolbox]/[Vetta]/Getty Images

Discussion: Foundational Neuroscience

As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, it is essential for you to have a strong background in foundational neuroscience. In order to diagnose and treat clients, you must not only understand the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, but also how medications for these disorders impact the central nervous system. These concepts of foundational neuroscience can be challenging to understand. Therefore, this Discussion is designed to encourage you to think through these concepts, develop a rationale for your thinking, and deepen your understanding by interacting with your colleagues.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Analyze the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents
  • Compare the actions of g couple proteins to ion gated channels
  • Analyze the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action
  • Analyze the impact of foundational neuroscience on the prescription of medications

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the
Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Note: All Stahl resources can be accessed through the Walden Library using this link. This link will take you to a log-in page for the Walden Library. Once you log into the library, the Stahl website will appear.

Stahl, S. M. (2013).
Stahl’s essential psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific basis and practical applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press *Preface, pp. ix–x

Note: To access the following chapters, click on the
Essential Psychopharmacology, 4th ed tab on the Stahl Online website and select the appropriate chapter. Be sure to read all sections on the left navigation bar for each chapter.

  • Chapter 1, “Chemical Neurotransmission”
  • Chapter 2, “Transporters, Receptors, and Enzymes as Targets of Psychopharmacologic Drug Action”
  • Chapter 3, “Ion Channels as Targets of Psychopharmacologic Drug Action”

Document: Midterm Exam Study Guide (PDF)

Document: Final Exam Study Guide (PDF)

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016i).
Introduction to psychopharmacology [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 3 minutes.

Optional Resources

Laureate Education (Producer). (2009).
Pathopharmacology: Disorders of the nervous system: Exploring the human brain [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 15 minutes.

Dr. Myslinski reviews the structure and function of the human brain. Using human brains, he examines and illustrates the development of the brain and areas impacted by disorders associated with the brain.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012).
Introduction to advanced pharmacology [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 8 minutes.

In this media presentation, Dr. Terry Buttaro, associate professor of practice at Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, discusses the importance of pharmacology for the advanced practice nurse.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Reflect on concepts of foundational neuroscience.

Note: For this Discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the “Post to Discussion Question” link and then select “Create Thread” to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and you cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on

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