The most sophisticated and mysterious human organ is the brain. The human brain is made up of billions of neurons, which are working nonstop to send and receive messages to regulate the body’s basic functions. Neurons communicate by releasing neurotransmitters from a sending neuron into the synapse, then a receiving neuron picks up the signals on its receptors from neurotransmitters. Drugs can interfere with the communication between neurons in the brain. They can affect the way people feel, react or behave. Drug use impacts the brain’s neuronal circuits which may lead to inflexible behaviors, lack of self-control, and compulsive drug use. Unlike most diseases causing cellular dysfunction, addiction is unusual. It is a disorder caused by addictive drugs acting to reinforce their acquisition. Addictive drugs which have different structures perform in large varieties of actions, however, they all can dissociate striatal dopamine neurotransmission from its ordinary drive; enhancing the neurotransmitters by environmental cues. Drugs can alter neurotransmission in three major ways: (1) Stimulate neurons, mimicking natural neurotransmitters (i.e., nicotine attaches acetylcholine receptors); (2) alter neurotransmission through interaction with molecular components of neurotransmission (i.e., cocaine attaches to the dopamine transporter); (3) increasing or decreasing number of receptors stimulated in neurotransmission (i.e., benzodiazepines enhance effects of GABA;). Drug addiction can affect important areas of the brain which control basic functions. The basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, the prefrontal cortex, and the brain stem are the main areas disrupted by addictive drugs. To address the negative impact of addictive drugs on the brain, an interactive project affiliated with Dr. Caroline Easton’s multidisciplinary Behavioral Health Medical Interactive Therapy (BHMT) team was created to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Neural transmission--Interactive multimedia--Design; Neuropharmacology--Interactive multimedia--Design; Drug abuse--Health aspects--Interactive multimedia--Design; Computer animation--Technique

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Medical Illustration(MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

Medical Illustration (CHST)


James Perkins

Advisor/Committee Member

Caroline Easton

Advisor/Committee Member

Cassandra Berbary


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes