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The Addictive Brain

The Addictive Brain
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12 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Addiction 101
Begin your course by defining "addiction," which is diagnosed based on characteristics such as abuse, dependence, and craving. Professor Polk then surveys the history of drug use, from ancient history…
Episode 2 The Psychology and Neuroscience of Reward
Explore the brain's mechanisms for learning from reinforcement. You'll start with the psychological aspects, discovering the way humans learn by a series of trials and rewards. Then you'll find out…
Episode 3 How Addiction Hijacks the Brain
Here you'll examine the ways addiction alters the brain by numbing the pleasure center, sensitizing the dopamine system, and inhibiting the prefrontal cortex. Combined, these altered brain functions lead to…
Episode 4 Genetics - Born to Be an Addict?
Investigate how people may be susceptible to addiction on a genetic level. Thanks to studies of twins and DNA analysis, scientists are homing in on the genes that predispose us…
Episode 5 Your Brain on Drugs
Shift your attention from the nature of addiction to the nature of drugs. Here you'll delve into the process of neurochemical transmission and see how drugs mimic this activity by…
Episode 6 Why We Crave Coffee and Cigarettes
Caffeine and nicotine are two of the most common psychoactive drugs in our society. How do they work? How dangerous are they? After reviewing how each of these drugs affects…
Episode 7 Alcohol - Social Lubricant or Drug of Abuse?
Alcohol is often discussed separately from other drugs, but as you'll discover in this lecture, alcohol affects the human body in many of the same ways. Take a close look…
Episode 8 The Science of Marijuana
Although there is no shortage of controversy around marijuana, whose legal status now varies from state to state, the science of this drug may surprise you. Through the lens of…
Episode 9 Stimulants - From Cocaine to Ritalin
From the original recipe for Coca-Cola to treatments for attention deficit disorder, psychostimulant drugs have had remarkable uses. But they have also been dangerously abused in the form of crack…
Episode 10 The Science of Poppies, Pleasure, and Pain
Round out your survey of the world's major drugs with an examination of opium and its derivatives, from regularly prescribed painkillers like codeine and morphine to heroin, often considered the…
Episode 11 The Gambler's Brain
Are drugs the only thing humans can get addicted to? What about behaviors? To answer this question, take a look at what happens inside the brain of a compulsive gambler.…
Episode 12 Junk Food, Porn, Video Games - Addictions?
The course concludes with an exploration of other potentially addictive behaviors. Professor Polk argues that some artificial stimuli - junk food, pornography, and video games to name three - are…

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