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NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND DRUGS

There are several different types of neurotransmitters released by different neurons, and we can speak in broad terms about the kinds of functions associated with different neurotransmitters (Table 3.1). Much of what psychologists know about the functions of neurotransmitters comes from research on the effects of drugs in psychological disorders. Psychologists who take a biological perspective and focus on the physiological causes of behavior assert that psychological disorders like depression and schizophrenia are associated with imbalances in one or more neurotransmitter systems. In this perspective, psychotropic medications can help improve the symptoms associated with these disorders. Psychotropic medications are drugs that treat psychiatric symptoms by restoring neurotransmitter balance.

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Major Neurotransmitters and How They Affect Behavior

Neurotransmitter Involved in Potential Effect on Behavior

Acetylcholine Muscle action, memory Increased arousal, enhanced cognition

Beta-endorphin Pain, pleasure Decreased anxiety, decreased tension

Dopamine Mood, sleep, learning Increased pleasure, suppressed appetite

Gamma-aminobutyric acid

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