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Drugs and the Neuroscience of Behavior

Drugs and the Neuroscience of Behavior
An Introduction to Psychopharmacology

Third Edition
  • Adam Prus - Northern Michigan University, USA

August 2020 | 670 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Drugs and the Neuroscience of Behavior presents an introduction to the rapidly advancing field of psychopharmacology by examining how drug actions in the brain affect psychological processes. Author Adam Prus provides historical background to give readers an appreciation for the development of drug treatments and neuroscience over time, covering major topics in psychopharmacology including new drugs and recent trends in drug use. Empirically supported pedagogical features offer students the opportunity to reflect on what they read to ensure understanding before progressing to new content. The Third Edition includes a new chapter on depressants and discussions of major topics such as the opioid epidemic, the risks associated with vaping, and MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD.

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About the Author
Chapter 1. Introduction to Psychopharmacology

Why Read a Book on Psychopharmacology?

What Is a Drug?

Psychoactive Drugs Are Described by Manner of Use

Generic, Brand, Chemical, and Street Names for Drugs

Drug Effects Correspond With Doses

Pharmacodynamics, Pharmacokinetics, and Pharmacogenetics

Objective and Subjective Effects of Psychoactive Drugs

Study Designs and the Assessment of Psychoactive Drugs

Validity and the Interpretation of Study Findings

Ethical Considerations in Research

From Actions to Effects: Therapeutic Drug Development

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 2. The Nervous System
Cells in the Nervous System

The Nervous System

Cerebral Blood Flow and Cerebrospinal Fluid

Genes and the Physiological Processes of Cells

From Actions to Effects: Advances in Therapeutic Use of CRISPR Genetic Technology

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 3. Neurotransmission
Electrical Events Within a Neuron and the Release of Neurotransmitters

Electrical Potentials Along Axons

Propagation of Action Potentials Down Axons

Neurotransmitters: Signalling Molecules for Neuronal Communication

Neurotransmitters and Receptors

Types of Neurotransmitters

Other Types of Chemical Transmission in the Nervous System

From Actions to Effects: Probiotics and Mental Health

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 4. Properties of Drugs
Pharmacokinetic Properties of Drugs

Pharmacodynamic Properties of Drugs

Psychoactive Drugs and Receptors

Adaptations to Chronic Drug Use

From Actions to Effects: Environmental Neurotoxicology

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 5. Drugs of Abuse
Regulatory Agencies and Drug Classification

Clinical Definitions and the Diagnosis of Drug Addiction

Theoretical Models and the Features of Drug Addiction

Drugs of Abuse and Reward Circuitry

Chronic Use of Abused Substances and Changes to Learning and Memory Systems

Neurobiology and the Stages of Drug Addiction

Mortality and Drug Addiction

Psychological and Pharmacological Therapies for Treating Drug Addiction

From Actions to Effects: Food Addiction

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

A Final Note About Drug Addiction

Chapter 6. Psychostimulants
Psychostimulants: Herbal Products, Prescription Drugs, and Substances of Abuse

Pharmacokinetics of Psychostimulants

Psychostimulants and Monoamine Neurotransmitters

Pharmacological Effects of Psychostimulants

From Actions to Effects: Psychostimulants as Cognitive Enhancers and Treatments for ADHD

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 7. Nicotine and Caffeine
Nicotine and Tobacco

History of Tobacco

Pharmacokinetic Properties of Tobacco

Nicotine and Nervous System Functioning

Nicotine’s Pharmacological Effects

Environmental, Genetic, and Receptor Differences Between Light and Heavy Tobacco Users

From Actions to Effects: Why People Smoke and How They Quit


Caffeine Absorption, Duration, and Interaction With Other Psychoactive Drugs

Caffeine: Antagonist for Adenosine Receptors

Caffeine: Mild Psychostimulant Effects

Tolerance and Withdrawal During Sustained Caffeine Use

From Actions to Effects: Caffeine Habit?

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 8. Depressants
Types of Depressant Substances

Depressants and GABA Neurotransmission




Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)


From Actions to Effects: Stimulus Properties of GHB and Toluene

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 9. Alcohol
Alcohol: The Most Commonly Used Depressant Substance

Alcohol Production Through Fermentation and Distillation

History of Alcohol

Pharmacokinetic Factors and Alcohol’s Effects

Alcohol and Interactions With Other Drugs

Alcohol and Central Nervous System Functioning

Pharmacological Effects of Alcohol

Treating Alcohol Addiction

From Actions to Effects: Hangover

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 10. Opioids
Opioids: Natural and Synthetic

History of Opioid Use

Pharmacokinetic Properties and Opioid Abuse

Opioid Drugs and the Endogenous Opioid System

Opioid Drugs Are Classified by Receptor Actions

Opioids and Reward, Pain, and Stress Systems

Opioid Rewarding and Analgesic Effects

From Actions to Effects: Pharmacological Approaches for Treating Opioid Addiction

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 11. Cannabinoids
Historical Use of Cannabis

Methods of Cannabis Preparation and Use

Cannabinoid Compounds and the Endocannabinoid System

Physiological Effects of Cannabinoids

Behavioral and Cognitive Effects of Cannabinoids

Subjective Effects of Cannabinoids

Cannabis Use Disorder

Health Risks of Cannabis

From Actions to Effects: Medical Use of Cannabinoids

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 12. Psychedelic Drugs

Mixed Stimulant–Psychedelic Drugs

Dissociative Anesthetics

Other Psychedelic Drugs

From Actions to Effects: Synesthesia

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 13. Treatments for Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Mental Disorders


Antidepressant Drugs

Limitations in Antidepressant Drug Effectiveness and Development

Pharmacogenetic Factors in Antidepressant Treatment

Combination Drug Strategies for Treating Depression

Combining Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy for Treating Depression

Antidepressant Drugs and Monoamine Neurotransmitter Systems

Bipolar Disorder

Mood Stabilizers, Anticonvulsants, Antipsychotics, and Antidepressants for Bipolar Disorder

From Actions to Effects: Psychedelic Drugs for Treating Depression

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 14. Treatments for Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety Disorders

Structures Involved in Fear and Anxiety

Anxious Feelings, the Amygdala, and the Sympathetic Nervous System

Stress and the HPA Axis

Anxiolytic Drugs for the Treatment of Anxiety

Antidepressant Drugs for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

MDMA Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

From Actions to Effects: How Do Antidepressant Drugs Reduce Anxiety?

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Chapter 15. Antipsychotic Drugs

Schizophrenia’s Complex Neurobiological Profile

A Brief History of Schizophrenia and Its Treatment

Neurotransmission Hypotheses for Schizophrenia

Typical and Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs

Antipsychotic Drugs and Autism

From Actions to Effects: Antipsychotic Drug Actions and Neurotransmission in Schizophrenia

Chapter Summary

Key Terms

Author Index
Subject Index


Instructor Resource Site

Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.
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“This textbook is an excellent source for students to learn about pharmacology and explore their interests on a deeper level with the provided research articles.”

Mansi A. Shah
Temple University

“The images used for laboratory protocols are excellent. They allow students to learn about them in an easy-to-understand way.”

Elizabeth Caldwell
University of New Hampshire
Key features
  • Coverage of new major topics includes CRISPR genetic technology, effects of the microbiome on the nervous system, and behavioral mechanisms of drug action.
  • A new chapter on depressants introduces depressant substances, which includes coverage of barbiturates, benzodiazepines, Z-drugs, GHB and inhalants. Content includes characteristics of depressant drugs, the role of GABA for effects of many depressants, and GABAA receptor subtypes that GHB binds to.


  • Chapter-opening outlines and learning objectives prepare students for forthcoming material and identify what they should be able to accomplish upon completion of the reading.
  • From Actions to Effects sections provide focus on a topic drawing from multiple chapter concepts to show how the actions of a drug produce its effects.
  • Stop & Check questions concluding each section in every chapter allow students to assess their own understanding of main points covered in the previous section.
  • Review! callouts serve as important reminders of information covered in previous chapters to help students make connections and understand new concepts.
  • Drug Profiles provide basic information about a key compound and include a drug’s generic name, trade name and/or street name, and a description of its pharmacological actions.
  • Research Techniques and Methods boxes cover a research technique or method used in psychopharmacology research and serve as an easy reference when students come across research findings derived from each technique.
  • Chapter-ending summaries and key terms allow readers to review and reinforce the material.

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781544362595

ISBN: 9781544362571