Download e-book for kindle: Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System 4th by The Society for Neuroscience

By The Society for Neuroscience

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S. health care costs, an estimated $80 billion each year. The direct and indirect costs of smoking are estimated at more than $138 billion per year. Nicotine, the addicting substance in tobacco, acts through the well-known cholinergic nicotinic receptor. This drug can act as both a stimulant and a sedative. Immediately after exposure to nicotine, there is a “kick” caused in part by the drug’s stimulation of the adrenal glands and resulting discharge of epinephrine. The rush of adrenaline stimulates the body and causes a sudden release of glucose as well as an increase in blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate.

Soon, the usefulness of chloroform and nitrous oxide became known and heralded a new era in surgery. The dozens of drugs used today during surgery abolish pain, relax muscles, and induce unconsciousness. Other agents reverse these e∑ects. Local anesthesia is used in a limited area of a person’s body to prevent pain during examinations, diagnostic procedures, treatments, and surgical operations. The most famous of these agents, which temporarily interrupt the action of pain-carrying nerve fibers, is Novocain, which dentists used as a local anesthetic for many years; lidocaine is more popular today.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by symptoms of slowness of movement, muscular rigidity, tremor, and postural instability. The discovery in the late 1950s that the level of dopamine was decreased in the brains of Parkinson’s patients was followed in the 1960s by the successful treatment of this disorder by administration of the drug levodopa, which is converted to dopamine in the brain. The successful treatment of Parkinson’s by replacement therapy is one of the greatest success stories in neurology.

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