Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Mouse Party

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Mouse Party

Article excerpt

Mouse Party. 2008. The University of Utah, Genetic Science Learning Center http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/units/addiction/drugs/mouse.cfm.

Supported by a Science Education Drug Abuse Partnership Award (SEDAPA), from The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health. Grant Number: 1 R25 DA 15461

The University of Utah, genetics science learning division, has done a great job teaching the science of addiction on their Web site, Learn.Genetics. In general, their site is informative, interactive and presented in a new and creative way.

One of the simulations on the Utah Web site is a simulation called Mouse Party that demonstrates how different drugs affect dopamine receptors of neurons. Addictive drugs affect the brain in very complex ways. There are many different pathways involved in the process of "feeling high." One area of focus is how drugs enhance the natural reward pathways of the brain, which are responsible for our feelings of motivation, reward, and behavior. The dopamine receptors are the primary receptor involved in the reward pathway. In Mouse Party, students become the lab assistant by picking up mice, putting them in an observation chair and connecting them to a brain analyzer machine. Seven drugs (heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and LSD) are demonstrated by seven different mice. …

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