NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology

NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology

NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology

Basic structure of the nervous system

The nervous system consists of three neurons: sensory, motor and interneurons. The functions of the neurons are to receive, integrate, and transmit signals, achieved by the three essential components of a neuron: nucleus, axons, and dendrites. The dendrite receives and processes information allowing the neuron to produce electric impulses (Snyder & Smith, 2018). The impulses move to the axons, which convey nerve impulses to target cells. At the axon, the nerve impulse is converted into a chemical neurotransmitter, for example, dopamine, enabling communication between neurons and terminated through enzymatic action, reuptake, or diffusion.


    1. What are the major components that make up the subcortical structures?
  • Pituitary gland
  • Limbic structures
  • Basal ganglia
  • Diencephalon

Which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction?

The limbic system of the subcortical structure contains the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role during memory processing, including organization, storage of long-term, and connections with emotions and sensations (Snyder & Smith, 2018). Similarly, the limbic system plays a crucial role in motivation and learning and modulates addiction.

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What are the two key neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control

Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal area and is involved in motor control (Sonne et al., 2021). The second neurotransmitter is GABAergic, which also has a vital role in motor control (Kolasinski et al., 2019).

Functions of glia cells

Glia are the non-neuron cells incapable of producing electrical impulses. The function of the glia in the central nervous system is to give neurons support and protection. Other functions of glia include cleaning up debris, maintaining homeostasis, supplying nutrients, and myelin formation (Snyder & Smith, 2018). For example, glia forms a myelin sheath that traps chemicals and buffers ions that would otherwise damage the neurons if passed through to neurons.

Synapse and chemical communication

Synapse is the space between the axon and dendrite of different neurons that support communication between two different neurons

NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology
NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology

through neurotransmitters or electrical potential (Snyder & Smith, 2018). Communication occurs when the axon terminal of the sending neurons creates synapses by releasing neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters diffuse into the synaptic cleft to the dendrite of the receiving neuron cell. The process allows the transfer of messages from one neuron to another.


Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to adjust and reorganize its neural networks to adapt to new experiences or learning. The concept of neuroplasticity means that neuron networks in the brain are not rigid but can be trained or influenced following new understandings. Neuroplasticity of the brain is the feature that supports growth and development in children as they encounter new experiences(Snyder & Smith, 2018). Additionally, neuroplasticity ensures that neuron networks that are barely used get eliminated while the frequently used ones are strengthened. An example of neuroplasticity is recovering from stroke and learning to do things such as relearning to move after the effects of stroke.


NURS 6630 Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treat Psychopathology References

Kolasinski, J., Hinson, E., Zand, A., Rizov, A., Emir, U., & Stagg, C. (2019). The dynamics of cortical GABA in human motor learning. J Physiol, 597(1):271-282. https://doi.10.1113/JP276626.

Snyder, A. C., & Smith, M. (2018). Early steps toward understanding neuronal communication. Curr Opin Neurol, 31(1), 59–65. https://doi.10.1097/WCO.0000000000000512.

Sonne, J., Reddy, V. R., & Beato, M. R. (2021). Neuroanatomy, Substantia Nigra. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing.