Neurophysiology and Electrophysiology

The function and actions of neurons, nerves, neural tracts, and neural tissue can be evaluated by invasive and noninvasive techniques and are included in psy-chopharmacologic investigations. In animal subjects, current technology allows for single cell recording of electrical activity relevant to neurophysiologic function. Action potentials, excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs), inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), long-term potentiation (LTP), and kindling all are studied in response to psychopharmacologic agents. Sensory and motor nerve recording, in animal subjects and in human patients, also provide useful information in this context. Electromyography (EMG) can be used in human patients to evaluate muscular responses, for example, to muscle relaxants and in cases of anxiety and pain. Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) is used to assess heart function and is relevant in the present context to evaluate side effects of psychopharmacologic agents, as an index of stress responses, and to evaluate effects of psychopharma-cologic drugs that may be revealed in cardiovascular arousal (e.g., anxiety, general arousal). Electroencephalography (EEG) is a noninvasive technique used to evaluate electrophysiologic activity of the brain. Detailed analyses of this information (e.g., contingent negative variation [CNV], auditory evoked potentials [AEP], visual evoked potentials [VEP], somatosensory evoked potentials [SEP], and positive or negative deflections in these responses) reveal the relay of information through specific brain regions and, thereby, can be used to evaluate the actions and to suggest mechanisms of psychopharmacologic agents.

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