A central underlying concept of neuropsychopharmacology is that drugs that influence behavior and improve the functional status of patients with neurological or psychiatric diseases act by enhancing or blunting the effectiveness of specific combinations of synaptic transmitter actions.
Four research strategies provide the neuroscientific substrates of neuropsychological phenomena: molecular (or biochemical), cellular, multicellular (or systems), and behavioral. Molecular mechanisms include: (1) ion channels, which provide for changes in excitability induced by neurotransmitters; (2) neurotransmitter receptors; (3) auxiliary intramembranous and cytoplasmic transductive molecules that couple these receptors to intracellular effectors for short-term changes in excitability and for longer-term regulation through alterations in gene expression; and (4) transporters for the conservation of released transmitter molecules by reaccumulation into nerve terminals, and then into synaptic vesicles (see Chapter 6). Vesicular transporters are distinct from the plasma membrane proteins involved in transmitter uptake into nerve terminals. Electrical excitability of neurons occurs through modifications of the transmembrane ion channels that all neurons express in abundance. Discriminative ion channels (Figures 12—2 and Chapter 9) regulate the flow of the three major cations, Na+, K+ and Ca2+, and Cl- anions. Two other families of channels regulate ion fluxes: cyclic nucleotide-modulated channels, and transient receptor potential (TRP) channels.
A a1 subunits for Ca2+, Na+ channels w
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