Identifying input-specific mechanisms underlying drug-evoked plasticity in the dopamine system

2015 Seed Grant
Stephan Lammel, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Drug addiction is a major public issue worldwide because it strongly affects a person’s health and places a costly burden upon society. A consistent finding in addiction research is that drugs of abuse elicit long-lasting synaptic changes in the brain’s “reward system”, a neural circuit important for 5 responding to natural rewards such as food and sex. Such pathologic synaptic plasticity represents a form of maladaptive learning that is thought to contribute to the development of the addicted state. A critical step in addiction research is to identify specific synapses in the reward system that are susceptible to drug-evoked synaptic plasticity. To identify these synapses we will combine cutting-edge technologies that allow unprecedented insights into brain structure and function. Our findings will accelerate the development of brain stimulation interventions that selectively target drug-induced changes in the synapses of the brain’s reward system, which may be efficacious in reducing drug use and relapse.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
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