Nerves, synapses and drugs

This page contains the course content relating to 3.4.5 ‘Drugs can affect how we perceive the world around us’. Here you’ll find the lessons related to this topic organised by date with a description of the lesson and all the resources related to it.

Learning Objectives for Monday 17/12/2012

During period 4 I want us to review these learning objectives:

  • Hypothermia is a condition in which body temperature falls below 35°C.
  • Normal thermoregulatory mechanisms fail.
  • The processes involved in thermoregulation in a mammal. The role of thermoreceptors in the skin and the hypothalamus.
  • The role of positive feedback as temperature continues to fall.

Here’s a powerpoint we will use as a starting point.


We’ll also use this lino that we created last week to help us answer some past paper questions about hypothermia.

Following on from this we will use period 5 to review our learning of the whole topic. I will get you to highlight areas of the syllabus that you feel we need to concentrate on both in remaining lesson that we (may) have available to us, and on the crammer day (Monday 7th Jan).

For this you will need a specification.

Learning Objectives for Friday 14/12/2012

Diabetes – a disease of our times

  • The regulation of blood glucose.
  • The factors which influence blood glucose concentration.
  • Role of hormones in activating enzymes involved in the interconversion of glucose and glycogen
  • The roles of insulin and glucagon in controlling blood glucose.
  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Control by insulin, changes of diet and lifestyle.
  • Candidates should be aware of the health implications of undiagnosed or  untreated diabetes.
  • When provided with appropriate information, candidates should be able to evaluate evidence showing correlations between life-style and the incidence of  diabetes.

By the end of today’s lesson you should be able to annotate this diagram to explain the role that insulin and glucagon play in regulating blood glucose levels.


Exam questions: Blood glucose questions

Powerpoint: Regulation of blood glucose concentration

Learning Objectives for the week beginning Monday 03/12/12

A slightly different way of organising the learning objectives this week. I think it would be a better idea to post the week’s learning objectives as a block rather than breaking each lesson down so you can see what you will be doing on Friday at the beginning of the week.

Below is our canvas for the muscles lesson from this topic.

  • Nerve pathways from eye to brain (optic nerve, optic chiasma, lateral geniculate nucleus, visual cortex) used to illustrate lateralisation and localisation of function in the brain.
  • 2012-12-03 12.59.39
  • Visual perception by the brain. A brief outline of ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ theories of visual perception.
  • When provided with information, candidates should be able to predict and explain the effects of specific drugs on perception.
  • The nervous and hormonal systems work together to produce coordinated responses to stimuli which we perceive as threatening or frightening.
  • The roles of the hypothalamus, sympathetic nervous system and adrenal gland in bringing about the fight or flight response.
  • A comparison of nervous and hormonal coordination. Candidates should appreciate why hormonal control (particularly steroid hormone control) takes longer than nervous control.
  • Stimuli perceived by the brain can lead to hormonal changes that produce physiological responses. The role of the hypothalamus in mediating such responses.
    The general role of the sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system and their antagonistic effects (The nervous system).
    The hypothalamus
    • receives input from the cerebral cortex
    • sends nerve impulses via the sympathetic nervous system
    • to effectors which may be muscles or glands (as exemplified by the adrenal glands).
  • Candidates should be able to describe movement and maintenance of posture in terms of antagonistic muscle action.
  • Gross and microscopic structure of skeletal muscle. The ultrastructure of a myofibril (Biofactsheet BIO FACTSHEET 46_MUSCLES) (Emma’s powerpoint Muscle Contraction, my powerpoint on muscle structure Muscles ).
  • The sliding-filament theory of muscle contraction (Powerpoint on sliding theory of muscle contraction Muscle contraction).
  • The roles of actin, myosin, tropomyosin, calcium ions and ATP in myofibril contraction.
  • Muscles as effectors. The structure, location and general properties of slow and fast skeletal muscle fibres.

It looks as if there’s a vast amount of stuff there but if you read through it you’ll discover that some of the stuff we’ve already covered and I’m hoping that the parts about visual perception will be quite straight forward.

Here are some websites to get you started:

And a powerpoint that we’ll use in the lesson:


Learning Objectives for Friday 30th November 2012

In tomorrow’s session we shall be looking at the following learning objectives:

Candidates should be able to use their knowledge of the functioning of the  nervous system to explain how drugs can influence the functioning of the brain and so affect mood and perception of reality
• LSD and cocaine affecting the actions of monoamine neurotransmitters
• marijuana binding to THC receptors
• nicotine binding to nicotinic receptors in the brain and sympathetic ganglia.

The biology mad page on drugs and synapses is a mine of information. We’ll use it in the lesson to fill in a table explaining the effects of the 4 drugs named above on synapses.

This powerpoint (Synapses_and_Drugs) is a good start (it’s where I found the link to the biology mad page) although it talks about alcohol and barbiturates which aren’t on our specification.

Learning Objectives for Monday 26 November 2012

In tomorrow’s session we’ll be looking at the following objectives from section 3.4.5:

  • the passage of an action potential along non-myelinated and myelinated axons resulting in nerve impulses
  • The structure of a synapse as revealed by an electron microscope.

Lesson plan:

We’ll start by looking at this video  and use it to prompt a discussion on how we would adapt the animation to show the action potential moving down the axon.

We’ll use this questions sheet (Nervous System) as a prompt. If anyone wants to they can answer the questions or we could use them as discussion points that you could make notes on.

What I think would be a good idea is if we then split into pairs and then each tackle a separate part of the stuff we’ve done so far and write an exam question for the rest of the class to answer.

For the second part of the lesson we’ll look at synapses. I will probably use this powerpoint so have a look at it if you get chance (Synaptic Transmisson).

There’s another ppt that if we get time I’d like us to improve by adding more detail to it and deciding amongst yourselves what is relevant and irrelevant to our spec. (synapse i)

Hope to see you all full of enthusiasm and raring to go tomorrow morning!

Learning objectives for Friday 23 November 2012

  • The initiation of an action potential and its all or nothing nature.

Today we will be using the following resources:

Here’s some homework for you relating to this lesson. I want you you to do this question for Monday 26/11/12.



4 thoughts on “Nerves, synapses and drugs

  1. Hey, I found a really good website just now to do with this stuff, I used it for the editing power point homework, thought I’d give it to you all!

    Posted by ajalmightyone | December 2, 2012, 8:22 pm
  2. Emma:
    Explain how the neurone maintains a resting potential.

    Posted by ajalmightyone | November 26, 2012, 2:41 pm
  3. Hannah’s:
    Describe and explain how the cell changes during action potential. Refer to the necessary channels and pumps.

    Posted by ajalmightyone | November 26, 2012, 2:40 pm

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