Addictive Behaviors – Brain Reward Mechanisms

Nicotinic receptors are widely expressed in the brain, modulating many neuronal processes and contributing to neuropathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. We have found that a mutation in one of the receptor subunits alters the response to natural reward stimuli. Because the same neural pathways are involved in natural rewards (such as food, sex and exercise), and addictive processes in response to drugs of abuse, it is possible that these receptors are central to the development of addictive processes. In this study we will use genetically altered mice to determine whether nicotinic receptors play a significant role in natural reward, and map the specific brain circuits where these receptors may exert their actions. These studies will give insight into the biological underpinnings of reward mechanisms in the brain and may provide new targets for the treatment of addictive behaviors.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…