BNS3052 - Drugs, brain and altered awareness
6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL
Undergraduate Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences
Leader(s): Associate Professor Shantha Rajaratnam
Clayton Second semester 2009 (Day)
Following a brief examination of philosophical views of awareness and consciousness, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie changes in awareness are examined. The modes of action, brain regions targeted and effects on cognition and behaviour of clinical, prescribed and recreational drugs are discussed. They are compared with other altered states of awareness including circadian rhythms, sleep, coma, hypnosis, meditation, delirium, dementia, psychoses and affective disorders. The notion that awareness results from the integration of cellular activity in the brain and that subtle changes in this pattern of activity can dramatically alter awareness, cognition and behaviour, is emphasised.
On successful completion of this unit, students will:
- understand the neurobiological modes of action of the major classes of drugs, and their different effects on awareness, cognition and behaviour;
- understand that awareness results from the integration of cellular activity in the brain, and that subtle changes in this pattern of activity can dramatically alter awareness, cognition and behaviour; and
- appreciate that addictive behaviour has a strong neurobiological basis, and the ethical and social implications of drug use and abuse.
Additional objectives involve fostering research and presentation skills that will be useful to graduates of Behavioural Neuroscience. To this end, student at the completion of the course will have:
- acquired experience in a variety of laboratory-based research paradigma and demonstrated a satisfactory level of competence in obtaining and interpreting scientific data and its presentation in written reports;
- acquired skills and experience in electronic data acquisition and the presentation of reports using modern techniques of information technology; and
- developed experience in self-directed group work and the instruction of others.
Mid-semester written theory examination (short answer and/or MCQ, 1.5 hour): 35%
End of semester written theory examination (short answer and/or MCQ, 1.5 hour): 35%
Two short practical written reports (maximum 500 words each): 5%
One oral presentation using PowerPoint (research consultancy exercise) 5%
Laboratory report (2,000 words) 20%
6 contact hours + 6 additional hours per week
Must be enrolled in Bachelor of Behavioural Neuroscience or Bachelor of Biomedical Science