Inhibitory Or Excitatory Potential Changes Essay

1487 words - 6 pages

Inhibitory or Excitatory Potential Changes

"MDMA affects the brain by increasing the activity of at
least three neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers of brain
cells): serotonin, dopamine, and nor epinephrine" (The Brain's
Response to Hallucinogens). This increase in activity can be
either excitatory or inhibitory in nature depending on the
neurotransmitter involved and which part of the reaction to the
drug is taking place. Every area of the brain containing
serotonin, dopamine, and/or norepinephrine is affected by MDMA,
but the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways are principally
affected. This includes the neocortex and much of the limbic
system. Within the limbic system, the hypothalamus, basal
ganglia, amygdala, and hippocampus are affected. In the reward
center, the nucleus acumens, a place where dopamine neurons are
prevalent, is affected (Hallucinogens).

In each part of the brain, action potentials or inhibitory
responses to MDMA cause the side effects felt by users. The
neocortex is responsible for memory and altered perceptions,
while the limbic system influences changes in moods, emotions,
and feelings of anxiety. The hippocampus is also responsible for
memory, while the nucleus acumens is said to be responsible for
feelings of pleasure or the reinforcing effects of MDMA. It is
important to realize that all the pleasurable and not so
pleasurable behavioral and physiological effects of MDMA are
occurring because neurons within the cell bodies of our bodies
are reacting to the foreign stimuli.

When MDMA crosses the blood brain barrier it begins to
affect presynaptic neurons containing the neurotransmitters
mentioned. It causes repeated EPSPs in addition to the
spontaneous firing rate, which create an action potential
releasing serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine from vesicles
in the terminal boutons into the synapse (exocytosis). Once in
the synapse, MDMA binds to receptors on the postsynaptic neuron
and causes a decrease in its firing rate. The presence of so
much serotonin as well as MDMA activates many receptors on the
postsynaptic neuron.

There are approximately 15 different serotonin receptors,
and the quantity of each type differs from person to person
(Kalat 68). Because MDMA has an affinity for particular
receptors and the quantity of those receptors can be so varied,
the effects of MDMA are varied as well. This is why accounts
from MDMA users change from person to person and from one use to
the next. Whatever the quantity of receptors, MDMA binds to
those it has an affinity for and causes the receptors to produce
EPSP's. If enough EPSP's are sent to the cell body from the
receptors then an electrical impulse will stimulate the release
of more neurotransmitters into the synapse. It is the action at
the serotonin synapses that are responsible for the
hallucinogenic effects of MDMA. "…Ecstasy causes a sustained

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