Psychoactive Drugs: Brain, Body, and Society

Course Description

This course blends neuroscience and public health to help you understand the societal and biological effects of different psychoactive drugs. You will learn about the history of psychoactive drugs as well as the basic biological mechanisms of different psychoactive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, marijuana, nicotine, opiates, and caffeine. You will also learn about psychoactive drugs that are used to treat addiction, depression, anxiety, Parkinson's disease, and schizophrenia.

The class consists of a combination of lectures, group work, interactive projects, and independent reading. You will have the opportunity to work in small groups to research and present to the class the societal and neurobiological aspects of a chosen psychoactive drug. The material covered in this course is typical for intro-level college neuroscience or public health class.

By the end of the course, you will:
• Understand the basics of neuroscience (how do neurons communicate in the brain and how do drugs interfere with that process)
• Understand the broad societal factors that influence whether a drug is legal or illegal

This course is an excellent introduction for students interested in studying neuroscience and/or public health.


There are no explicit prerequisites for this course but you should be familiar with basic biology (what is a cell?). A strong interest in the subject material is expected.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 27, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 1 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 3:30P-6:20P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Guillaume Pagnier
Course Number: 10080