Psychoactive Drugs: Brain, Body, Society

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 26, 2021 - August 11, 20217/26 - 8/112 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineGuillaume Pagnier
Samantha Portis

Course Description

Have you ever wondered about the difference between recreational and medicinal usage of psychoactive drugs (drugs that alter mood and behavior)? Are there basic differences in the action of psychoactive drugs when they are taken for recreational versus medicinal purposes? And how does society decide how to categorize psychoactive drugs: which ones to make legal and which illegal? Are government policies concerning psychoactive drugs enacted in a rational manner?

In this course, you will learn about these issues, as well as basic biological mechanisms of action of psychoactive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, marijuana, nicotine and caffeine. In addition, you will learn about psychoactive drugs that are used to treat disorders such as drug abuse, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

This course will help prepare you for college level neuroscience courses and show you how scientific and societal topics are often intertwined.

By the end of this course you will have an enduring understanding of:
• How different classes of psychoactive drugs act in the brain, and
• How legal and illegal drug use affects both individuals and society

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest or some background in the subject material is expected.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0906

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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