Pharmacology: Do Cognitive Enhancing Drugs Work?

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Overview: Drugs are any synthetic or natural substances used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. [1] Drugs can be everyday substances (caffeine, nicotine, ethyl alcohol) ; illicit substances (cannabis, heroin, cocaine) and food additives. [2] The study of drugs – what they are, how they work and what they do – is called Pharmacology. Pharmacology comprises of: • Pharmacodynamics-what a drug does to the body (includes biological effects and mechanism of action) • Pharmacokinetics- what the body does to a drug(includes absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of drugs and their metabolites) The most common ways in which a drug can produce its effects are shown in Fig.2. [3] Drugs that enter the body stimulate certain receptors, ion channels act on enzymes or transporter proteins. • Agonists – chemicals or drugs that activate receptors and produce a response. Agonists activate receptors for endogenous mediators –e.g. Salbutamol is an agonist β2 adrenoreceptors. The after effect may be excitatory (e.g. increased heart rate) or inhibitory (e.g. relaxation of airway smooth muscle). Agonists at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors exert an inhibitory effect causing long-lasting depolarization at the neuromuscular junction and hence inactivation of the Na+ channels that initiate the action potential. Agonists possess affinity and efficacy. • Antagonists – chemicals that combine with the receptor and block the action of the transmitter substance. Neutral antagonists block the effect of the agonist. There are two types of antagonism – Competitive (reversible and surmountable) and non-competitive (irreversible and insurmountable). Competitive a... ... middle of paper ... ...11):1984–9. [14] Hernández F, Avila J. Tauopathies. Cell. Mol. Life Sci.. 2007;64(17):2219–33. doi:10.1007/s00018-007-7220-x [15] Dorlands Medical Dictionary. No Date. Available from - [16] Lanni C, Lenzken SC, Pascale A, et al. (March 2008). "Cognition enhancers between treating and doping the mind". Pharmacol. Res. 57 (3): 196–213.doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2008.02.004. PMID 18353672. [17] Giurgea C (1972). "[Pharmacology of integrative activity of the brain. Attempt at nootropic concept in psychopharmacology] [18] BBC online survey on Modafinil. Available from -

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