Psychiatric Disorders Drugs and the Brain - Planning

Okay - looks good - nice photo ;)
TED talks have a wide audience so this is a good choice plus interesting to weigh up the balance of self-promotion vs genuine altruistic information sharing.


Work Plan:


  • Cause of Mental Illness (ADHD focus) - Maddy & Ashton
    • chemical imbalance
    • disturbance of neural circuits
  • Dopamine - Fiona
    • method of action
    • effects
  • Current Drug Treatments - Aimee
    • method of action
    • success
    • side effects
  • Flies and Humans - All
    • similarities and correlation


Group input (all members)

Neuroscientific context:

ADHD behaviours (Maddy & Ashton), dopamine (Fiona), current drug treatments (Aimee), {flies vs humans (other studies? not as important/ tie in), chemical imbalance vs neuronal pathways - include in other topics if relevant}

Analysis of research:

Target Audience: general (easily understood)
Unbiased: ??
In accordance with current research: chem vs neural - group findings


Compiled from group work.


Work Plan: Monday, August 12

Neuro Group Photo.jpg
Draft Project: Monday, September 9

Peer Review: Monday, September 16

Final Project: Monday, September 23


  • Differences between brain and body disease knowledge
  • Psychiatric disorders – ‘chemical imbalances’ within the brain
  • Drugs given that globally changing brain chem ‘global soup’
    • Stop taking due to unpleasant side effects
    • Complex disorder given general ‘solution’

Psychiatric disorders disturbances of neural circuits that mediate emotion, mood & affect:
  • NOT generic chemical imbalance
  • Release of specific chemicals at synapse with target, not ‘soup’

Importance of model organisms re: genetics of neural circuits

Lack of knowledge of neural circuit base of psychiatric disorders:
  • Activate/destroy/inhibit specific neuron to see effect on brain activity and behaviour – production/block; neurons sufficient for behaviour/ neurons necessary
    • Cause and effect of particular neurons in circuits and behaviours

Flies: emotion-like states?
  • No expression to reveal emotion
  • General properties of emotion-like states through behaviour
    • Persistence (long lasting), gradations of intensity, valence (good/bad)
    • Puffomat experiment: hyperactivity, persistent, graded (directly related to puff #) all present
  • Abnormal flies identified: mutant took longer to calm down
  • Gene affected: encoded dopamine receptor

  • Acts on brain and synapses through same dopamine receptor molecule in humans and flies
  • Functions: attention, arousal, reward
  • Disorders linked to mental disorders: drug abuse, ADHD, Parkinson’s disease

In flies:
  • Assumed normal function: to cause flies to calm down faster (reminiscent of ADHD – linked to dopamine system disorders)
  • Increased dopamine (cocaine given to) – calm down even faster

ADHD linked to learning disabilities in humans and flies:
  • Flies w/ decreased dopamine didn’t learn
  • 2 abnormalities (phenotypes) similar to ADHD
  • Humans: ADHD > hyperactivity > learning disability OR ADHD > learning disability > hyperactivity OR not related, caused by mechanism in ADHD ???

In flies:
  • Good copy of dopamine put back in brain of mutant > put back in certain neurons but not others
  • Dissociation of abnormalities: if put in central complex no longer hyperactivity but still have learning deficit; if put in mushroom body still hyperactive but no longer have learning deficit
  • Dopamine not bathing brain: acting to control 2 different functions on 2 different circuits
  • Same receptor controls 2 different functions in 2 different regions of brain: same with humans?

Future research > drugs need to be targeted to specific neurons and regions of the brain affected, depending on the psychiatric disorder. May eliminate unpleasant side effects