Glossary

antidepressant drugs Medications used to treat a variety of conditions, such as depression, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Generally, there are four different groups: (i) the tricyclic antidepressants, which include imipramine and the related agents amitriptyline and nortriptyline; (ii) the monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as tranylcypromine and phenelzine; (iii) the newest group, the serotonin reuptake blockers, which include anafranil, fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, citalopram, and paroxetine; and (iv) others such as trazadone and bupropion.

antipsychotic drugs Medications used for a variety of conditions. The name is derived from the improvement they produce in certain psychotic behaviors, such as delusions and hallucinations. The first such agent, chlorpromazine, was synthesized circa 1950. New atypical agents include clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, ziprasi-done, and quetiapine. These medications are also called neuroleptics.

catecholamines Three endogenously produced substances—epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine—that serve as neuro-transmitters. They are powerful chemicals that can be found in neurons throughout the body. The effects of these compounds are responsible for the functioning of the brain even during the early fetal stages of life. They help regulate an endless number of functions ranging from thinking and mood to motor control.

limbic system A group of structures located in the brain that are involved in regulating emotion and its association with behavioral and mental functioning.

neurotransmitters Compounds that are released into interneuronal junctions called synapses. They are released from the axon of a presynaptic neuron and impact on the receptors of the postsynaptic neuron, the nerve cell on the other side of the synapse. This is the chemical means by which transfer of information occurs in the brain.

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Catecholamines comprise three endogenously produced substances—epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine—that serve as neurotransmitters. They are powerful chemicals that can be found in neurons throughout the body. The effects of these compounds are responsible for the functioning of the brain even during the early fetal stages of life. They help regulate an endless number of functions ranging from thinking and mood to motor control. In this article, we review the structure, the anatomical distribution, and the role that these substances play in functioning and behavior.

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