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Wendy Donlin & Erin Rasmussen

In: 21st Century Psychology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 18: Behavioral Pharmacology

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Behavioral Pharmacology
Behavioral pharmacology

Behavioral pharmacology is an area of scientific study that bridges the fields of psychology and pharmacology, with subject matter covering any aspect of the interaction between drugs and behavior. Most often, behavioral pharmacologists study the influence of drugs on the entire behaving organism rather than focusing on the brain or periphery. The goal of behavioral pharmacology is to identify behavioral mechanisms involved in drug action (Branch, 2006).

Born out of learning theory, the field of behavioral pharmacology emerged from studies in two interesting, but quite diverse, research areas: (a) laboratory studies that showed that animals can seek out and administer certain drugs (called self-administration), and (b) the discovery and application of chlorpromazine as a psychoactive substance that effectively treats symptoms of schizophrenia. Scientists ...

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