Cells, chemicals and the mind
The context for this topic is an outline study of the role of chemicals in normal brain function, and the ways in which this normal function can be disrupted by mental illness and by drugs. It explores some of the issues raised by drug treatments and by recreational use of drugs.
The topic uses simple models to introduce signal transmission in the brain through neurons, synapses and neurotransmitters. These will allow students to understand the explanations that are used to account for drug action and for some mental illnesses and their treatments.
How science works
The topic extends AS knowledge of establishing causal links through more detailed understanding of different study designs and measures of correlation. The difficulties of decision making in the face of uncertain knowledge and ethical issues associated with mind-altering technologies are also important themes.