Psychopharmacologic Approaches To Treatment Of Psychopathology

Introduction to Neuroanatomy

Introduction to Neuroanatomy and Adherence

When building a house, contractors and architects rely on a blueprint to help determine what features and structures are needed to support the house and provide those features sought after by potential buyers. If a potential error occurs in the construction of a support beam, for example, it is likely that the house will sustain damage and, possibly, crumble.

In much the same way, the features and structures of your brain provide a blueprint that help to support your body and provide the mechanisms with which to sustain your well-being. Individuals who suffer from mental illness, according to the fundamental premise of psychiatric neuroscience, are a result of abnormal brain function. Yet, as advancements in neuroimaging and genetics emerge, a whole new understanding of how to address mental illness remains for the psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP). Neuroimaging and genetic techniques help provide insights, such as a blueprint of the brain, for detailing how the brain’s structure and wiring is functioning.

By determining what functions and structures of the brain or central nervous system are implicated in psychopathologies observed PNPs are able to synthesize biological explanations into treatment protocols for sustained, positive patient outcomes. A solid foundation and understanding of the functions and structures of the central nervous system is the first pillar of solidifying your understanding of psychopharmacology.

The human brain is organized into the cerebral cortex, brainstem, subcortical structures, and the cerebellum. These anatomical structures are made of inter-connected elements that create distributed and highly inter-connected circuits. It is in these circuits where cognition, behavior, and affect are processed.

—Camprodon, J. A., & Roffman, J. L. (2016, p. 6)

By using a combination of psychotherapy and medication therapy, psychiatric nurse practitioners (PNP) are positioned to provide a very unique type of care to patients with psychiatric disorders. To be successful in this role, you must have a strong theoretical foundation in pathophysiology, psychopharmacology, and neuroscience. This foundation will help you assess, diagnose, and treat patients as you relate presenting symptoms to theoretical neuronal functioning.

As you study psychopharmacology, you will explore the basic functional unit of the nervous system, the neuron. You will review the structure of the neuron and you will examine the anatomy of the central nervous system and consider the functionality of the different structure and outward (phenotypic) expression of their activities. You will analyze these concepts as you complete your short answer assessment.

· Describe the functions and structures of the central nervous system

· Describe the different structures that make up the neuron

· Explain the function of neurons in intracellular communication

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.

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.

Short Answer Assessment 2


NURS 6630: Psychopharmalogical Approaches to Treat Psychopathology


Assignment: Short Answer Assessment


Short Answer Assessment

1. Axon consists of elongated fibers that extend from the cell body to the terminal endings and aids in transmitting signals. Some axons have a fatty substance called myelin, which acts as an insulator and can transmit signals much faster than other neurons. Axon elongated fibers connect with other cells in the body through the synapses (Stern, Fava, Wilens, & Rosenbaum, 2016)

2.The major components that make up the subcortical structures include the cerebellum, basal ganglia, and the thalamus, hypothalamus, pituitary, and brainstem.

The frontal lobe is involved in functions such as planning, attention, problem-solving, judgment, and initiative. The following components play a role in learning, memory, and addiction.

The cerebellum is responsible for motor coordination and learning. The ventral striatum plays a vital role in emotion and learning via connections with the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex.

The two critical neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that plays a significant role in motor control is Dopamine and GABAergic neurons (Sonne, 2020)

3.Glia cells are non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system and do not produce electrical impulses. Glia cells maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons. Glia cells are divided into two groups, microglia cells and macroglia cells; Macroglia cells can be further divided into astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Microglia cells act as a primary immune defense of the central nervous system, travel and remove damaged substances, pathogens, or other foreign substances. Glia cells also play a role in neurotransmission and synaptic connections and the physiological processes of breathing. Astrocytes are star-shaped glia cells with many functions, including providing nutrient support to the neurons, helping repair damaged nervous system tissue, regulating communication between neurons, and maintaining blood-brain barriers. Oligodendrocytes are responsible for axonal regulation and the generation and maintenance of the myelin sheath that surrounds axons (Hooper & Pocock, 2020)

4. A neuron, referred to as the pre-synaptic cell, releases a neurotransmitter or other neurochemical from special pouches clustered near the cell membrane called synaptic vesicles into space between cells. Those molecules will then be taken up by membrane receptors on the post-synaptic or neighboring, cell hence changing the cell’s behavior. Chemicals from the pre-synaptic neuron may excite the post-synaptic cell, for example, telling it to slow down signaling or stop it altogether. Synapses offer the possibility of bi-directional communication; as such, post-synaptic cells can send back their messages to pre-synaptic cells, telling them to change how much or how often a neurotransmitter is released (Penttila, 2019).

5. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to recognize itself by forming new neural connections throughout. Neuroplasticity allows neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and adjust their activities to respond to new situations or changes in their environment. For example, if one hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the intact hemisphere takes over some of its functions hence compensating for the damaged hemisphere (William C. Shiel Jr., 2017)


Hooper, C., & Pocock, J. M. (2020, November 25). The functions of glia in the CNS. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from

Penttila, N. (2019, August 26). What Happens at The Synapse? Retrieved December 06, 2020, from

Sonne, J. (2020, November 08). Neuroanatomy, Substantia Nigra. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from

Stern, T. A., Fava, M., Wilens, T. E., & Rosenbaum, J. F. (2016). Chapter 1. In Massachusetts General Hospital psychopharmacology and neurotherapeutics (pp. 13-316). London: Elsevier.

William C. Shiel Jr., M. (2017, January 24). Definition of Neuroplasticity. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from

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