Psychoactive Drugs: Brain, Body, Society

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 29, 2020 - July 02, 20206/29 - 7/02*M-Th 12:15P- 3:50POpenGuillaume Pagnier

Course Description

Have you ever wondered about the difference between recreational and medicinal usage of psychoactive drugs (drugs that alter mood and behavior)? Are there basic differences in the action of psychoactive drugs when they are taken for recreational versus medicinal purposes? And how does society decide how to categorize psychoactive drugs: which ones to make legal and which illegal? Are government policies concerning psychoactive drugs enacted in a rational manner?

In this course, you will learn about these issues, as well as basic biological mechanisms of action of psychoactive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamine, marijuana, nicotine and caffeine. In addition, you will learn about psychoactive drugs that are used to treat disorders such as drug abuse, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

This course will help prepare you for college level neuroscience courses and show you how scientific and societal topics are often intertwined.

By the end of this course you will have an enduring understanding of:
1. How different classes of psychoactive drugs act in the brain, and
2. How legal and illegal drug use affects both individuals and society.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest or some background in the subject material is expected.

*For 1 week course sections scheduled for June 29 - July 2, 2020: Classes will not meet on Friday, July 3rd due to the observed Independence Day holiday. Due to the brevity of the course, meeting times have been adjusted accordingly Monday - Thursday to preserve in-class hours. We encourage students to remain on campus through Friday as our Campus Life team will be fully engaged with our students, offering a variety of activities.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBN0906
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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