The Science of Marijuana
Episode 8 of The Addictive Brain

The Science of Marijuana
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Alcohol - Social Lubricant or Drug of Abuse?
Episode 7 of The Addictive Brain
Alcohol is often discussed separately from other drugs, but as you'll discover in this lecture, alcohol affects the human body in many of the same ways. Take a close look at your brain on alcohol to explore dependence, withdrawal, and genetic susceptibility. Then review several treatment options for alcohol abuse.
The Addictive Brain
Addiction touches us all. What happens when your brain is on drugs? Discover the neural mechanisms that underlie the behaviors of addiction, and see how drugs and activities like gambling can hijack the brain and lead to behavioral problems. Understanding addiction can motivate an addict to seek treatment, and can…
Addiction 101
Episode 1 of The Addictive Brain
Begin your course by defining "addiction," which is diagnosed based on characteristics such as abuse, dependence, and craving. Professor Polk then surveys the history of drug use, from ancient history through the development of synthetics in the 19th and 20th centuries. Finally, he reviews government regulation and the substantial costs…
The Psychology and Neuroscience of Reward
Episode 2 of The Addictive Brain
Explore the brain's mechanisms for learning from reinforcement. You'll start with the psychological aspects, discovering the way humans learn by a series of trials and rewards. Then you'll find out what parts of the brain process pleasure, self-control, and craving, and see how the psychology and neuroscience of reward processing…
How Addiction Hijacks the Brain
Episode 3 of The Addictive Brain
Here you'll examine the ways addiction alters the brain by numbing the pleasure center, sensitizing the dopamine system, and inhibiting the prefrontal cortex. Combined, these altered brain functions lead to strong cravings and a reduced ability to control one's actions. This foray into neuroscience will forever change the way you…
Genetics - Born to Be an Addict?
Episode 4 of The Addictive Brain
Investigate how people may be susceptible to addiction on a genetic level. Thanks to studies of twins and DNA analysis, scientists are homing in on the genes that predispose us toward addiction. While there is no single "addiction gene," our DNA can significantly influence whether we become addicts.
Your Brain on Drugs
Episode 5 of The Addictive Brain
Shift your attention from the nature of addiction to the nature of drugs. Here you'll delve into the process of neurochemical transmission and see how drugs mimic this activity by binding to neural receptors. This process is responsible for everything from a drug's physical and psychological effects to its potency.
Why We Crave Coffee and Cigarettes
Episode 6 of The Addictive Brain
Caffeine and nicotine are two of the most common psychoactive drugs in our society. How do they work? How dangerous are they? After reviewing how each of these drugs affects the brain - and why nicotine in particular is so addictive - Professor Polk offers several strategies to quit tobacco…
Stimulants - From Cocaine to Ritalin
Episode 9 of The Addictive Brain
From the original recipe for Coca-Cola to treatments for attention deficit disorder, psychostimulant drugs have had remarkable uses. But they have also been dangerously abused in the form of crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and related drugs. Find out how stimulants work in the brain and why they can be so harmful.
The Science of Poppies, Pleasure, and Pain
Episode 10 of The Addictive Brain
Round out your survey of the world's major drugs with an examination of opium and its derivatives, from regularly prescribed painkillers like codeine and morphine to heroin, often considered the most harmful drug of abuse in the world today. Learn about the neurological effects and treatment options for opiate drugs.
William Miller on Motivational Interviewing
If you've ever tried to help someone change, you've probably realized that taking the expert role and telling the person what to do often doesn't work, and usually leaves you feeling frustrated. Bill Miller, the founder of Motivational Interviewing, developed an alternative that might be obvious to some and radical…
Problem Solving - With Terrence Real
If you are in recovery, then you have already moved toward solving one of the biggest problems anyone might face. But once recovery has begun, it can seem paradoxically like life gets more complicated as all the smaller daily problems come into focus--relationship troubles, workplace conflicts, unpaid bills, and more.…