Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This course considers the process of neurotransmission, especially chemicals used in the brain and elsewhere to carry signals from nerve terminals to the structures they innervate. We focus on monoamine transmitters (acetylcholine; serotonin; dopamine and norepinephrine); we also examine amino acid and peptide transmitters and neuromodulators like adenosine. Macromolecules that mediate neurotransmitter synthesis, release, inactivation and receptor-mediated actions are discussed, as well as factors that regulate their activity and the second-messenger systems and ion fluxes that they control. The involvement of particular neurotransmitters in human diseases is considered.

Required Text

Buy at Amazon Cooper, Jack R., Floyd E. Bloom, and Robert H. Roth. The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology. 8th ed. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780195140088.


  1. Undergraduate Students: The first exam will count for 50% of the final grade, and the second exam will count for the other 50% of the final grade.
  2. Graduate Students: The first exam will count as 1/3 of the final grade, and the second exam will be 1/3 of the final grade, and the term paper will count as the last 1/3 of the course grade.
  3. Undergraduate students who are less than satisfied with their performance on the first exam can write a term paper and if the grade on the paper is higher than that earned on the exam then it will be substituted for the first exam grade.
  4. All students must prepare to take the second test. There will be no make-up tests for the second test. If a student is in the infirmary on the date of that test, it can be administered at the infirmary.
  5. Any student who misses both tests will fail the course.


1 Neurotransmitters, receptors, and actions  
2 Membranes and the blood brain barrier  
3 Acetylcholine: biochemistry  
4 Acetylcholine: Alzheimer's disease Student meeting deadline
5 Dopamine: biochemistry and Parkinson's disease  
6 Norepinephrine and epinephrine  
7 Serotonin: biochemistry  
8 Serotonin: behavior, and obesity  
9 Review  
10 Hour examination - midterm  
11 Melatonin  
12 Glutamate: biochemistry  
13 Glutamate: learning and toxicity  
14 Gaba  
15 Glycine and histamine  
16 Cannabinoids and adenosine  
17 Peptides New paper due date
18 Drug development and review  
19 Hour examination - final