Chapter 2: Behavioral Analysis of Drug Effects Chapter Overview Chapter 2 begins by contextualizing the emergence of behavioral pharmacology as a distinct field of study. Thereafter, students are provided with key concepts in research design and behavioral psychology that are important for understanding how drug effects are measured. Particular attention is paid to experimental control, placebo effects, and designs commonly used in drug research. In addition, the chapter describes how drug effects can be assessed using specific tests of unconditioned as well as classically and operantly conditioned behaviors in research animals. Measures of drug effects on human behaviors, including abuse liability, are also reviewed. These behavioral paradigms will, in later chapters, be frequently revisited in the course of studying the effects of specific classes of drugs. Chapter Outline/Notes  Behavioral pharmacology is the study of the effects of drugs on behavior. The behavioral pharmacologist uses experimental techniques of modern behaviorally oriented psychology and behavioral neuroscience to also examine the mechanisms that underlie drug effects.  For millennia, scholars and writers have produced anecdotal accounts of the effects of drugs on humans. Yet, rigorous scientific investigation of drug effects began little more than a century ago, propelled by the advent of chemical techniques and the development of objective and systematic methods for studying behavior.  The emergence of behavioral pharmacology as a separate discipline was largely propelled by three events: (1) the therapeutic and commercial success of antipsychotic drugs, particularly chlorpromazine, which sparked a need for laboratory tests useful in examining the therapeutic effects of such drugs; (2) evidence of the usefulness of operant techniques in studying drug effects; (3) the application of physiology to the understanding of behavior and drug effects.  Scientific experimentation entails a search for causal relationships between events.  Scientific experiments contain an independent variable that is manipulated by a researcher and a dependent variable that is measured. In most experimental research studies conducted by behavioral pharmacologists, the independent variable is the presence or concentration of a drug in the body, and the dependent variable is some aspect of behavior.  Behavioral pharmacology studies may use a within-subjects design, in which a participant’s behavior is compared across drugged and drug-free states, or a between-subjects design, in which drugged participants’ behavior is compared to that of drug-free participants.  The treatment of participants in the control group in an experiment should be as similar as possible to the treatment of participants in the experimental group. For this reason, control-group participants are usually administered a placebo: an inactive substance given in exactly the same way as the drug of interest. This procedure controls for changes in behavior that might result due to the placebo effect.  The placebo effect refers to the observation that when people expect to experience a drug effect, they often demonstrate that effect even if they are administered only a chemically inert substance.  When an investigational drug is being tested for its therapeutic effects, it is standard to use the three-groups design: one group is given the investigational drug, one group is given a placebo, and one group is given an established drug with known therapeutic effect.  A double-blind procedure, in which neither the researchers nor the participants are informed as to which group they are in, is used to eliminate the effect of experimenter bias.  Nonexperimental drug research can illustrate relationships between events but cannot definitely establish the existence of a cause–effect relationship.

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  • Pages 15
  • Category Test banks
  • School / University Harvard University
  • Course Nursing
  • Course Level University level
  • Year 2022
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