Foundational Neuroscience Assignment

Foundational Neuroscience Assignment

As a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, it is essential for you to have a strong background in foundational neuroscience. In order to diagnose and treat clients, you must not only understand the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders, but also how medications for these disorders impact the central nervous system. These concepts of foundational neuroscience can be challenging to understand. Therefore, this Discussion is designed to encourage you to think through these concepts, develop a rationale for your thinking, and deepen your understanding by interacting with your colleagues. Students will: Analyze the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents Compare the actions of g couple proteins to ion gated channels Analyze the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action Analyze the impact of foundational neuroscience on the prescription of medications Post a response to each of the following: Explain the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action of psychopharmacologic agents. Compare and contrast the actions of g couple proteins and ion gated channels. Explain the role of epigenetics in pharmacologic action. Explain how this information may impact the way you prescribe medications to clients. Include a specific example of a situation or case with a client in which the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner must be aware of the medication’s action.Foundational Neuroscience Assignment


Mode of Action of Psychopharmacologic Agents: Agonist-Antagonist, G-Couple Proteins, and the Role of Epigenetics

Neuroscience is the biomedical science that deals with the biochemical interactions and processes that influence the way the body’s metabolism takes place from molecular genetics to phenotypical manifestations in humans that are visible to the naked eye. In treating mental health illnesses, the strategies used revolve around what the drug molecules can do to alter or influence the behavior of the normal and natural body molecules within cells of the body. This could be competitive inhibition of the actions of normal bodily molecules by structurally analogous drugs, or prevention of expression of the same molecules by way of inhibitory action at the molecular level (Stahl, 2017; Stahl, 2013). This paper discusses the mode of action of psychopharmacologic agents in terms of agonism-antagonism, g-couple proteins, and epigenetics.

Agonist-to –Antagonist Spectrum of Psychopharmacologic Agents

An agonist is a molecule that mimics or increases the action of another biological molecule in the body. Agonists will therefore provoke the action of a known agent positively by influencing its actions. An example is amphetamine which is a psychostimulant and dopamine agonist that mediates psychological reward pathways in the brain. What it basically does is to increase the reward response and makes the individual want to experience the reward feeling again hence the potential for abuse. An antagonist does the exact opposite to what an agonist does. An example of an antagonist in neuropsychopharmacology is quetiapine that antagonizes the actions of both dopamine and serotonin (5HT). What antagonists do is that they make the postsynaptic receptors unresponsive to stimulation by the biological molecule of interest (Stahl, 2017; Stahl, 2013).Foundational Neuroscience Assignment

G-Couple Proteins and ION-Gated Channels

G-proteins are heavily involved in psychiatric disorder such as depressive disorders. This means that they are intimately involved in the normal regulation of mood in the human being and can therefore be influenced by drugs that treat mood disorders (Senese et al., 2018). G-proteins and g-protein signaling proteins are affected by the action of many antidepressant medications. Most antidepressants produce their antidepressant actions by interacting with G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) or by affecting endogenous neurotransmitter levels hence regulating GPCR function. Examples of drugs based on this mode of action are aripiprazole and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine (Senese et al., 2018). G-coupled protein ion-gated channels are found on the plasma membrane of cells. In the context of psychopharmacologic agents, they selectively allow some molecules to pass into the cells while blocking the entry into cells of other molecules. This means pharmacologic agents designed to treat mental disorders must possess a factor that will allow them access into the cells via the ion-gated channels.

Epigenetics and psychopharmacology

Epigenetics is concerned with the alteration in the expression of genes without altering the gene or DNA sequence. An example is DNA methylation that acts to prevent the expression of some genes (Moosavi & Ardekani, 2016). The significance of this in the medication of psychiatric illnesses is in the fact that drug molecules can be made to inhibit the expression of destructive genes and hence prevent the phenotypical expression of the genes as a mental disease. Foundational Neuroscience Assignment

How the Above Information Impacts Prescription

In mood disorders, the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner or PMHNP must understand the mode of action of the medications in order to properly target the drug intervention for best patient outcomes. In major depressive disorder for instance, the PMHN must understand whether to use monoamine oxidase inhibitors of a SSRI based on the mode of action.


The molecular mode of action of a psychopharmacologic agent is crucial in treatment.


Moosavi, A., & Ardekani, A.M. (2016). Role of epigenetics in biology and human diseases. Iranian Biomedical Journal, 20(5), 246-258.

Senese, N.B., Rasenick, M.M., & Traynor, J.R. (2018) The role of g-proteins and g-protein regulating proteins in depressive disorders. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 9, 1289.

Stahl, S.M. (2017). Stahl’s essential psychopharmacology: Prescriber’s guide, 6th ed. Cambridge University Press.

Stahl, S. M. (2013). Stahl’s essential psychopharmacology: Neuroscientific basis and practical applications, 4th ed. Cambridge University Press. Foundational Neuroscience Assignment