THE BRAIN: Analyzing Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction
Big Picture
Specific brain regions control specific brain functions
The nervous system communicates by conveying information using electrical and chemical signals across synaptic junctions
Drugs affect the biochemistry of the synaptic junctions in the reward system
The most effective treatment of drug addiction is a controversial issue between the ‘disease-based’ and ‘behavioral-based’ schools of thought.
Drug addiction can never be cured (or can it?)

Essential Questions
1. Should all drug addicts be treated as criminals?
2. Can drug addiction be cured or just treated?
3. What separates legal from illegal drugs?
4. Why do some consider dopamine the most influential chemical in the body?
5. Is animal research into the effects and possible treatments for drug abuse warranted?

The Brain: What’s Going On in There?
1. _Examine and analyze the structure of a sheep’s brain
_Compare the major regions of the sheep brain with the human brain and identify the specific regions associated with different functions
3. _Analyze PET Scans to determine the different areas associated with different activates, and explain that particular functions are localized to specific areas of the brain
_Describe how brain-imaging techniques allow scientists to study activity in the brain and localize the areas for specific activities and identify different brain imaging procedures
5. _Identify the reward system of the brain
_Recognize that normal behaviors can activate the reward system in the brain and that drugs of abuse affect those same reward circuits
7. _Explain the contrasting roles of the ‘old brain’ and ‘new brain’

Neurons and Synapses: The Art of Communication
8. _Explain the hierarchical organization of the brain, neuron and synapse
9. _Relate the structure of a neuron to its function
_Sequence the series of events that allow the transmission of a nerve impulse at the synapse
11. _Describe how of inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters can influence nerve transmission at the synapse of neurons in series
_Explain the role of the blood brain barrier in drug transport

Drugs: A New Form of Communication
13. _Identify how drugs of abuse will interfere selectively with the neurotransmission at the synapse
_Explain how the route of administration and dosage of a drug determines its effect
15. _Design an experiment, and collect data to investigate the effect of caffeine on heart rate
_Analyze experimental data and show how experimental data can lead to further investigations
17. _Research the varied mechanisms of caffeine action on the biochemistry of the cell and investigate the half-life of caffeine
_Describe the action of major medications that work at the synapse

Drug Abuse and Addiction
20. _Explain how tolerance, withdrawl and cravings are related to drug abuse
_Distinguish between drug abuse and drug addiction
22. _Explain the long-term physical and functional changes in the brain associated with drug abuse and addiction
_Recognize that addiction is influenced by the social and behavioral context of drug abuse
24. _Examine the medical use of addictive drugs
_Analyze experimental data to identify the transition between drug addiction and drug abuse
26. _Model the theoretical activity of drug users and determine how risk factors, choice and peer pressure may influence addiction
_Explain how environmental, behavioral and social factors influence drug abuse and addiction

Where Do We Go From Here?
28. _Explain the difference between acute and chronic diseases and how they relate to drug abuse and addiction
_Compare the treatment of addiction with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension
30. _Explain the effects of methadone and naltrexone on heroin addiction
_Describe the most frequent attributes and principles of any drug treatment program
32. _Examine the stories of different drug addicts and describe the consequences of their actions
_Read and summarize article on the biochemistry of drug addiction


Assessments will include…..
ID of the different parts of the brain
Illustrate the general action of neurotransmitters at the synapse
Illustrate the actions of common drugs on the synapse
Create a common antidote to a series of recreational drugs
Discussion and summary of caffeine investigation results
Write a position paper to support a judge’s decision to place a habitual drug offender in a treatment program rather than jail.
Counsel a drug user on how to overcome their addiction
Answering the essential questions either verbally or in writing
Illustration of Scientific American article ‘The Addicted Brain’
Unit Evaluation