NURS 6630 Week 1 Introduction to Neuroanatomy

NURS 6630 Week 1 Introduction to Neuroanatomy

NURS 6630 Week 1 Introduction to Neuroanatomy

Week 1: Introduction to Neuroanatomy

Describe the anatomy of the neuron, the basic unit of the nervous system, in four or five phrases. Include each component of the neuron as well as a broad summary of electrical impulse conduction, the course it takes, and the net outcome at the impulse’s termination. Provide specifics and instances.

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the human central nervous system to understand the brain’s dysfunction that can lead to disease, mental disorders, and physical impairment (Karmarkar & Plassmann, 2019). The complex design of a neuron is the basic understanding of communication by sending impulses to other body organs. The brain controls human behavior and the functions of body organs. The anatomy and physiology of the brain help understand the part of the brain affected by mental illness. For example, poor concentration and cognitive skills dysfunction is the forebrain pathology. Additionally, one can understand the mode of action of psychopharmacology. For example, antidepressants may function by inhibiting the serotonin or epinephrine receptors.

An Agonist-To-Antagonist Spectrum of Action and How Partial and Inverse Agonists Influence Psychopharmacologic

An antagonist binds at the receptors by blocking any event of an agonist, hence, blocking the biological response. For example, naloxone is a competitive opioid antagonist and has no effects with opioid co-administration (Gicquelais, et al, 2019). An agonist binds to a receptor causing activation of the receptor, hence, the biological response. A partial agonist activates the receptors partially with lesser effect on the brain. For example, buprenorphine is a partial agonist, and therefore, an antagonist may block its opioid function without activating its receptors. An inverse receptor binds with constitutively active receptors and inhibits receptor activity by exerting opposite pharmacological effects that suppress spontaneous receptor signaling.

Comparison between Actions of G Couple Proteins and Ion Gated Channels

G coupled proteins GPCRs are integral membrane proteins that convert extracellular responses to hormones, neurotransmitters, olfaction, and taste signals. The GPCRs work by binding to the hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors to initiate a cellular response. The three types of G-couple receptors are alpha, beta, and gamma, in which the ligands bind and activate (Yudin & Rohacs 2019). Ion gated channels are integral membrane proteins of excitable cells that allow a flux of ions to pass only under defined circumstances. These channels are voltage-gated sodium channel neurons and ligand-dated acetylcholine receptors of the cholinergic synapses. The ion gated channel pull and bonds to the agonist changing the protein while g coupled proteins are used by the cells to convert intracellular signals into responses.

The Role of Epigenetics In the Pharmacologic Action

Epigenetics regulate gene activity by switching off the gene activity or activating the gene activity. Epigenetics plays a role in the phenotypic activity of the cell in diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Epigenetics modify gene expressions after drug administration to counteract the disease states in humans. Epigenetics proves its effectiveness in treating psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders to its ability to modify gene expressions.

The Significance of the Information to Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner should have basic knowledge of the concepts of foundational neuroscience. Understanding the function of agonists, inverse and partial agonists, and antagonists prevent co-administration of drugs that agonize and antagonize the same receptors. For example, in treating a patient with a depressive mood disorder, prescribing antipsychotics such as fluphenazine worsens the depressive mood because it antagonizes the dopaminergic D1 and D2 receptors depressing the release of the hypothalamic hormone.


Gicquelais, R. E., Bohnert, A. S., Thomas, L., & Foxman, B. (2020). Opioid agonist and antagonist use and the gut microbiota: associations among people in addiction treatment. Scientific reports10(1), 1-11.

Karmarkar, U. R., & Plassmann, H. (2019). Consumer neuroscience: Past, present, and future. Organizational Research Methods22(1), 174-195.

Yudin, Y., & Rohacs, T. (2019). The G‐protein‐biased agents PZM21 and TRV130 are partial agonists of μ‐opioid receptor‐mediated signalling to ion channels. British journal of pharmacology176(17), 3110-3125.

The neuron is the basic or foundational unit of the neurological system. A normal human brain has around 100 billion neurons. The neuron is composed of three major components: an axon, dendrites, and a cell body or soma, which are typically depicted as roots, tree trunks, or branches (Slominski, Momsen, & Montplaisir, 2017). The axon is the neural output structure that transmits electrical messages from one neuron to another via action potentials that transit the length of the axon. When an electrical impulse reaches the axon terminals and synaptic end bulbs, it causes the release of signaling chemicals, such as adrenaline, acetylcholine, glutamate, dopamine, or noradrenaline.

Answer the following questions (listing is acceptable):
What are the main components of the subcortical structures?

Subcortical structures are collections of neuronal formations deep within the inner brain that include the basal ganglia, limbic structures, pituitary gland, and diencephalon.

Which component influences learning, memory, and addiction?

Learning, memory, emotions, bodily hemostasis, and olfaction are all controlled by limbic regions (Camina & Güell, 2017). It also has an impact on addiction.

What are the two essential neurotransmitters found in the nigra striatal area of the brain that are important for motor control?
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) dopamine (Camina & Güell, 2017).
Explain in three or four sentences how glia cells act in the central nervous system. Provide specifics and instances.

Glial cells are astrocytes, microglia, and oligodendrocyte lineage cells that make up a large portion of the mammalian brain. Glial cells serve an important role in brain growth and homeostasis maintenance in the CNS. Astrocytes, on the other hand, are important in the uptake of neurotransmitters including GABA and glutamate (Camina & Güell, 2017). Oligodendrocytes are responsible for supporting and maintaining neurons in place, as well as supplying insulation (myelin sheath) and protecting neurons.

A synapse is a connection between two neurons that facilitates chemical communication. Explain in three or four phrases what part of the neurons communicate with each other and in which direction this communication occurs. Make your point.

Neurons communicate with one another via synapses. An electrical signal causes an action potential to reach the presynaptic terminal, causing neurotransmitters to be released from neurons into the synaptic cleft (Slominski, Momsen, & Montplaisir, 2017). The neurotransmitter will traverse the synaptic cleft and bind to a receptor on the postsynaptic dendrite.

Explain the notion of “neuroplasticity” in 3-5 sentences. Provide specifics and instances.

Neuroplasticity is defined as the nervous system’s ability to change its activity in response to extrinsic and intrinsic stimuli by recognizing its structure, connections, or functions (Javaid, Schellekens, Cryan, & Toulouse, 2020). The ability of neurons to adjust the effectiveness and intensity of synaptic transmission via numerous activity-dependent mechanisms known as synaptic plasticity is an important feature. Neuroplasticity is classified into two categories. The first category is functional plasticity, which describes the brain’s ability to shift functions from damaged to intact areas. The second type is structural plasticity, which explains the brain’s ability to modify its physical structure in response to learning.


Slominski, T. N., Momsen, J. L., & Montplaisir, L. M. (2017). Drawing on student knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Advances in physiology education41(2), 212-221.

Javaid, M. A., Schellekens, H., Cryan, J. F., & Toulouse, A. (2020). Evaluation of Neuroanatomy Web Resources for Undergraduate Education: Educators’ and Students’ Perspectives. Anatomical sciences education13(2), 237-249.

Camina, E., & Güell, F. (2017). The neuroanatomical, neurophysiological and psychological basis of memory: Current models and their origins. Frontiers in pharmacology8, 438.

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.
This week, as you begin to 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 for this week.

NURS 6630 Week 1 Introduction to Neuroanatomy


Camprodon, J. A., & Roffman, J. L. (2016). Psychiatric neuroscience: Incorporating pathophysiology into clinical case formulation. In T. A. Stern, M. Favo, T. E. Wilens, & J. F. Rosenbaum. (Eds.), Massachusetts General Hospital psychopharmacology and neurotherapeutics (pp. 1–19). Elsevier.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
• 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

Learning Resources

Required Readings (click to expand/reduce)

Camprodon, J. A., & Roffman, J. L. (2016). Psychiatric neuroscience: Incorporating pathophysiology into clinical case formulation. In T. A. Stern, M. Favo, T. E. Wilens, & J. F. Rosenbaum. (Eds.), Massachusetts General Hospital psychopharmacology and neurotherapeutics (pp. 1–19). Elsevier.

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Required Media (click to expand/reduce)

Psychopharmacologic Approaches to Treatment of Psychopathology (3m)

Optional Resources (click to expand/reduce)

Pathopharmacology: Disorders of the Nervous System: Exploring the Human Brain
Dr. Norbert Myslinski reviews the structure and function of the human brain. Using human brains, he examines and illustrates the development of the brain and areas impacted by disorders associated with the brain. (15m)
Introduction to Advanced Pharmacology
In this media presentation, Dr. Terry Buttaro, associate professor of practice at Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, discusses the importance of pharmacology for the advanced practice nurse. (6m)


Practicum Manual Acknowledgment

The Practicum Manual describes the structure and timing of the classroom-based and practicum experiences and the policies students must follow to be successful in the nurse practitioner (NP) specialties.
• Field Experience: MSN Nurse Practitioner Practicum Manual

Click here and follow the instructions to confirm you have downloaded and read the entire MSN Nurse Practitioner Practicum Manual and will abide by the requirements described in order to successfully complete this program.


Optional Discussion Forum: PMHNP Study Support Lounge

The PMHNP Study Support Lounge is offered throughout the course as a place of academic refuge, where you can ask questions, offer insights, and interact with your peers. Your Instructor may also weigh in to provide global feedback to the group based on trends, common problems, and common strengths in student posts.
As a peer, you are encouraged to provide constructive, helpful feedback to your peers. Advanced practice nurses always benefit from the feedback of others. Your Study Support Lounge posts may be procedural (“How do I attach a Kaltura video to a Discussion post?”), conceptual (“How does this relate to the other therapy approaches we have studied?”), or analytical (“What do these diagnostic results actually mean in the context of this specific patient case?”). Although not mandatory, this is an opportunity to interact and study together as you navigate the assignments, so you are highly encouraged to take part in this activity. Full participation in activities like these is a statistically significant predictor of success.

  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.

The neuron is anatomically made up of three primary parts: A dendrite, an axon, and soma (cell body). The dendrite is the receiving part of the neuron and is where a neuron receives input from other cells. The axon is a long, thin structure and is the transmitting part of the neuron where action potentials are produced (Crawford & Caterina, 2020). After action potentials are generated they pass down through the axons resulting in the release of neurotransmitter. The soma houses the nucleus and the neuron’s, and is where proteins are synthesized to be transported all through the axon and dendrites.

  1. Answer the following (listing is acceptable for these questions):
  • What are the major components that make up the subcortical structures?

The subcortical structures are made up of:

  • The diencephalon.
  • The pituitary gland.
  • Limbic structures.
  • The basal ganglia (Crosson, 2021).
  • Which component plays a role in learning, memory, and addiction?
  • The Mesocorticolimbic circuity is involved in learning, memory, and addiction (Sampedro-Piquero et al., 2019).
  • What are the two key neurotransmitters located in the nigra striatal region of the brain that play a major role in motor control?
  • Dopamine
  • Acetylcholine
  1. In 3 or 4 sentences, explain how glia cells function in the central nervous system. Be specific and provide examples.

The function of glia cells in the CNS includes regulating the number cell number by regulating survival of neurons and phagocytosis of excess neurons undergoing apoptosis. Glia cells also affect migration of neurones, axon specification, and growth (Allen & Lyons, 2019). After neurons are generated in the CNS, they migrate, radially through the neuroepithelium or tangentially. Radial glia cells are involved in radial migration of neurons and glia also regulate tangential migration of neurons.

  1. 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.

Chemical communication among neurons usually occurs across microscopic gaps referred to as synaptic clefts. The presynaptic neuron secretes a chemical called a neurotransmitter that binds to a receptor on the surface of the receiving postsynaptic neuron. Neurotransmitters are secreted from presynaptic terminals, which usually branch to communicate with a number of postsynaptic neurons (Crawford & Caterina, 2020). Neurons have dendrites that are designed to receive neuronal signals, even though receptors may be located somewhere else on the cell.

  1. In 3–5 sentences, explain the concept of “neuroplasticity.” Be specific and provide examples.

Neuroplasticity is defined as the ability of the nervous system to modify its activity in reactions to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by changing its structure, functions, or connections. Neurons have a fundamental property of being able to change the strength and efficacy of synaptic transmission through a wide-range of activity-dependent mechanisms, known as synaptic plasticity (Mateos-Aparicio & Rodríguez-Moreno, 2019). Neuroplasticity is a life-time process that brings about the structural and functional reaction of axons, dendrites and synapses to undergo attrition, and injury.




Allen, N. J., & Lyons, D. A. (2019). Glia as architects of central nervous system formation and function. Science (New York, N.Y.)362(6411), 181–185.

Crawford, L. K., & Caterina, M. J. (2020). Functional anatomy of the sensory nervous system: updates from the neuroscience bench. Toxicologic pathology48(1), 174-189.

Crosson, B. (2021). Subcortical functions in cognition. Neuropsychology Review31(3), 419-421.

Mateos-Aparicio, P., & Rodríguez-Moreno, A. (2019). The impact of studying brain plasticity. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience13, 66.

Sampedro-Piquero, P., Santín, L. J., & Castilla-Ortega, E. (2019). Aberrant Brain Neuroplasticity and Function in Drug Addiction: A Focus on Learning-Related Brain Regions. Behavioral Neuroscience. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.85280