NURS 6630 week 1 Assignment: Short Answer Assessment

Psychopharmacological Approaches to Treatment

Introduction

The brain, which is the most complex part of the human body, is responsible for the regulation and function of the human body. It is made up of billions of nerves that play critical roles in the human body (). The human body can reach its maximum potential through the presence of neurons that control numerous functions such as memory, learning, motivation, homeostasis, and emotion. This implies that nerve cells help people to understand their surroundings by initiating activities like smelling, hearing, touching, and sensing. A neuron is a basic unit of the nervous system which is involved in the transmission of information across nerve cells, glands, and muscles (Beaulieu-Laroche, 2018. This paper aims to discuss the anatomy of neurons, functionalities, its components, and the concept of neuroplasticity.

Anatomy of the Neuron

A neuron that is the basic unit of the nervous system is a nerve cell responsible for transmitting information to muscles, glands, and other nerve cells. A neuron has six major parts: synapse, myelin sheath, axon, soma, nucleus, and dendrites. Synapses play the role of sending electrical signals to other neurons while dendrites receive electrical signals from nearby cells (Beaulieu-Laroche, 2018). The soma comprises of cell’s organelle while the nucleus contains the DNA of cells. The axon transmits electrical signals from cells to synapses, while the myelin sheath insulates the axon to control electrical signals. Electrical impulse conduction takes place through the axon, cell body, and dendrite pathway. Impulse termination occurs when it reaches the synapse and communication takes place. Examples of impulses include touch, light, and sound.

 

Major Components of Subcortical Structures

Subcortical structures are neural formations in the brain which perform complex activities like hormone production, pleasure, emotion, and memory. The structures act as nervous system information hubs by relaying and modulating information in various parts of the brain. The major elements of subcortical structures include;

  • Diencephalon- It is the posterior of the forebrain and is made up of the epithalamus, thalamus, subthalamus, and hypothalamus that perform primary relay and processing of sensory information (Vertes, 2015).
  • Pituitary glands- It is an extension of the hypothalamus, which consists of the anterior lobe and posterior lobe and is responsible for secreting, stimulating, and releasing hormones.
  • Hippocampus- It is also known as the hippocampal formation and is in charge of spatial navigation and long-term memory.
  • Basal ganglia- It is made up of nuclei and is responsible for fine-tuning moto neuron functions.
  • Limbic structures- It is composed of cortical, subcortical, and brain areas, and it controls memory, emotion, olfactory, motivation, learning, and body homeostasis.

Which Component Plays a Role in Learning, Memory, and Addiction?

The cerebrum or the cortex, which is the largest part of the brain, plays a major role in the control of learning. The limbic system, including the cingulate gyri are responsible for learning. Although different parts of the brain may be responsible for different kinds of memory, the hippocampus and amygdala are generally responsible for memory. While, the nucleus accumbens and is responsible for influencing addiction through feelings of pleasure or reward (Surgeon General, 2016).

 

Key Neurotransmitters Located in Nigra Striatal Area of the Brain

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • GABA Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid

The Function of Glia Cells in the Central Nervous System

Glia cells are also known as neuroglia or glial cells, are non-neuronal cells that are found both in the central nervous systems (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS). Glia cells offer a supporting role to neurons and do not take part in the production of electrical impulses. The main functions of glial cells include the formation of myelin, maintaining homeostasis, and offering support and protection to neurons. The functions of glial cells are depicted from its different types, which include astrocytes, microglia, oligodendrocytes, and Schwann cells located in PNS (de Castro et al., 2015). Astrocytes control the floor of the blood in the brain, normalizes communication amongst neurons, and sustain fluid composition around neurons. Astrocytes also offer assistance to neurons during development by locating their destination and creating blood barriers in the brain. This is essential as it helps protect the brain from toxic substances. Microglia act as hunters, which eliminates dead cells and other waste substances. Oligodendrocyte components of glia cells take part in myelin’s production that insulates axons surrounding neurons and increases action potential in the central nervous system.

Part Of Neurons that are Communicating with each Other

Neuronal communication involves the transmission of electrochemical from one component to another. Synapses refer to the intersection between an axon of one neuron and the dendrite of another neuron where communication takes place (Andreae & Burrone, 2018). With this, the parts of neurons that communicate with one another are axons and dendrites. Axons conduct electrical impulses away from nerve cells to other neurons through a process called an action potential. On the other hand, dendrites comprise neurotransmitter receptors, which are released by neurons. If electrical impulses being released are strong, an action potential will travel down the area of the axon in the terminal buttons to release neurotransmitters in the synapse and completes the process of communication (The University of Queensland, 2017). Neuron communication occurs in the downward direction, which is determined by the action potential.

The Concept of “Neuroplasticity.”

Neuroplasticity/brain plasticity is defined as structural and functional changes that the brain adapts through the formation of new neural connections that result in new experiences in an individual’s environment (Voss et al., 2017). The concept of neuroplasticity describes the human brain’s ability to adapt, learn new skills, store information and memory, and being able to overcome traumatic brain injury. Neuroplasticity occurs through sprouting and rerouting processes naturally or through brain plasticity exercises and cognitive training. Sprouting involves the development of a new connection between neurons, while rerouting is the development of a new neural pathway by eliminating damaged nerve cells where new connections are formed between active neurons. During sprouting, neuron pathways are stimulated by repetitive cognitive functions that reinforce synaptic communication amongst neurons. Examples of neuroplasticity include neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and long-term potential, and depression. For example, during neurogenesis, new neurons are created in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb. In long-term potential, synapses are strengthened by recurring actions like studying aimed at promoting learning and memory.

 

Conclusion

Indeed, neurons are significant elements of the brain that are involved in the transmission of information to other neurons. A neuron consists of synapses, axons, dendrites, myelin sheath, soma, and a nucleus, which helps in neurotransmission. Therefore, the components allow a human being to manage learning, emotion, memory, and homeostasis activities with ease.

References

Andreae, L. C., & Burrone, J. (2018). The role of spontaneous neurotransmission in synapse and circuit development. Journal of neuroscience research96(3), 354-359.

Beaulieu-Laroche, L., Toloza, E. H., van der Goes, M. S., Lafourcade, M., Barnagian, D., Williams, Z. M., … & Harnett, M. T. (2018). Enhanced dendritic compartmentalization in human cortical neurons. Cell175(3), 643-651.

De Castro, G. M., Deja, N. A., Ma, D., Zhao, C., & Franklin, R. J. (2015). Astrocyte activation via Stat3 signaling determines the balance of oligodendrocyte versus Schwann cell remyelination. The American journal of pathology185(9), 2431-2440.

The University of Queensland (2017). Action potentials and synapses. Queensland Brain Institute – University of Queensland. https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain-basics/brain/brain-physiology/action-potentials-and-synapses

Surgeon General (2016). The neurobiology of substance use, misuse, and addiction. Retrieved from https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/sites/default/files/chapter-2-neurobiology.pdf

Vertes, R. P. (2015). Major diencephalic inputs to the hippocampus: supramammillary nucleus and nucleus reuniens. Circuitry and function. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 219, pp. 121-144). Elsevier.

Voss, P., Thomas, M. E., Cisneros-Franco, J. M., & de Villers-Sidani, É. (2017). Dynamic brains and the changing rules of neuroplasticity: implications for learning and recovery. Frontiers in psychology8, 1657.

 

Assignment: Short Answer Assessment

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, before you can recommend potential pharmacotherapeutics to address a patient’s condition or disorder, you must understand the basic function and structure of the neuron and central nervous system. For this Assignment, you will review and apply your understanding of neuroanatomy by addressing a set of short answer prompts.

To Prepare:

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week in preparation to complete this Assignment.
  • Reflect on the basic function and structure of the neuron in relation to the central nervous system.
  • Reflect on the inter-connectedness between neurons and the central nervous system, including the pathway and distribution of electrical impulses.
  • Reflect on how neurons communicate with each other and review the concept of neuroplasticity.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra

To complete:

Address the following Short Answer prompts for your Assignment. Be sure to include references to the Learning Resources for this week.

  1. In 4 or 5 sentences, describe the anatomy of the basic unit of the nervous system, the neuron. Include each part of the neuron and a general overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse. Be specific and provide examples.
  2. Answer the following (listing is acceptable for these questions):
    • What are the major components that make up the subcortical structures?
    • Which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction?
    • What are the two key neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control?
  3. In 3 or 4 sentences, explain how glia cells function in the central nervous system. Be specific and provide examples.
  4. The synapse is an area between two neurons that allows for chemical communication. In 3 or 4 sentences, explain what part of the neurons are communicating with each other and in which direction does this communication occur? Be specific.
  5. In 3–5 sentences, explain the concept of “neuroplasticity.” Be specific and provide examples.

 

Excellent

Point range: 90–100

Good

Point range: 80–89

Fair

Point range: 70–79

Poor

Point range: 0–69

In 4 or 5 sentences, describe the anatomy of the basic unit of the nervous sytem, the neuron. Include each part of the neuron and a general overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse. Be specific and provide examples.
12 (16%) – 13 (17.33%)
The response accurately and clearly describes in detail the anatomy of the neuron. The response accurately and clearly describes in detail each part of the neuron, and it includes a detailed explanation of the general overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse.

Examples fully support the response provided.

11 (14.67%) – 11 (14.67%)
The response accurately describes the anatomy of the neuron. The response accurately describes each part of the neuron, and it includes a general overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse.

Examples support the response provided.

10 (13.33%) – 10 (13.33%)
The response provides an inaccurate or vague description of the anatomy of the neuron. The response inaccurately or vaguely describes each part of the neuron, and it includes an inaccurate or vague overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse.

Examples vaguely support the response provided.

(0%) – 9 (12%)
The response provides an inaccurate or incomplete description of the anatomy of the neuron, or is missing. The response inaccurately or incompletely describes each part of the neuron, and it includes an inaccurate or vague overview of electrical impulse conduction, the pathway it travels, and the net result at the termination of the impulse, or is missing.

Examples do not support the response provided, or is missing.

Answer the following (listing is acceptable for these questions):

a. What are the major components that make up the subcortical structures?
b. Which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction?
c. What are the two key neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control?

12 (16%) – 13 (17.33%)
The response accurately and clearly details the major components that make up the subcortical structures.

The response accurately and clearly details which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction.

The response accurately and clearly identifies the two neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control.

11 (14.67%) – 11 (14.67%)
The response accurately identifies the major components that make up the subcortical structures.

The response accurately identifies which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction.

The response accurately identifies the two neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control.

10 (13.33%) – 10 (13.33%)
The response inaccurately identifies the major components that make up the subcortical structures.

The response inaccurately identifies which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction.

The response inaccurately identifies two neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control.

(0%) – 9 (12%)
The response inaccurately and incompletely identifies the major components that make up the subcortical structures, or is missing.

The response inaccurately and incompletely identifies which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction, or is missing.

The response inaccurately and incompletely identifies two neurotransmitters in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control, or is missing.

In 3 or 4 sentences, explain how glia cells function in the central nervous system. Be specific and provide examples.
12 (16%) – 13 (17.33%)
The response accurately and clearly explains in detail how glia cells function in the central nervous system.

Examples fully support the response provided.

11 (14.67%) – 11 (14.67%)
The response accurately explains how glia cells function in the central nervous system.

Examples support the response provided.

10 (13.33%) – 10 (13.33%)
The response inaccurately or vaguely explains how glia cells function in the central nervous system.

Examples inaccurately or vaguely support the response provided.

(0%) – 9 (12%)
The response inaccurately and vaguely explains how glia cells function in the central nervous system, or is missing.

Examples do not support the response provided, or is missing.

The synapse is an area between two neurons that allows for chemical communication. In 3 or 4 sentences, explain what part of the neurons are communicating with each other and in which direction does this communication occur? Be specific.
12 (16%) – 13 (17.33%)
The response accurately and clearly explains in detail the part of the neurons that communicate with each other and the direction in which this communication occurs.
11 (14.67%) – 11 (14.67%)
The response accurately explains the part of the neurons that communicate with each other and the direction in which this communication occurs.
10 (13.33%) – 10 (13.33%)
The response inaccurately or vaguely explains the part of the neurons that communicate with each other and the direction in which this communication occurs.
(0%) – 9 (12%)
The response inaccurately and vaguely explains the part of the neurons that communicate with each other and the direction in which this communication occurs, or is missing.
In 3–5 sentences, explain the concept of “neuroplasticity.” Be specific and provide examples.
12 (16%) – 13 (17.33%)
The response accurately and clearly explains in detail the concept of neuroplasticity.

Examples provided fully support the response provided.

11 (14.67%) – 11 (14.67%)
The response accurately explains the concept of neuroplasticity.

Examples provided support the response provided.

10 (13.33%) – 10 (13.33%)
The response inaccurately or vaguely explains the concept of neuroplasticity.

Examples inaccurately or vaguely support the response provided.

(0%) – 9 (12%)
The response inaccurately and vaguely explains the concept of neuroplasticity, or is missing.

Examples do not support the response provided, or is missing.

Written Expression and Formatting – English writing standards:
Correct grammar, mechanics, and proper punctuation
(6.67%) – 5 (6.67%)
Uses correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation with no errors.
(5.33%) – 4 (5.33%)
Contains a few (1 or 2) grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
3.5 (4.67%) – 3.5 (4.67%)
Contains several (3 or 4) grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
(0%) – 2 (2.67%)
Contains many (≥ 5) grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that interfere with the reader’s understanding.
Written Expression and Formatting – The paper follows correct APA format for title page, headings, font, spacing, margins, indentations, page numbers, parenthetical/in-text citations, and reference list.
(6.67%) – 5 (6.67%)
Uses correct APA format with no errors.
(5.33%) – 4 (5.33%)
Contains a few (1 or 2) APA format errors.
3.5 (4.67%) – 3.5 (4.67%)
Contains several (3 or 4) APA format errors.
(0%) – 2 (2.67%)
Contains many (≥ 5) APA format errors.
Total Points: 75
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