Our work focuses on the neurobiological basis of drug addiction, with an emphasis on drug craving and drug relapse behavior. Sub-second, phasic dopamine signals in the mammalian brain play an important role in reward processing and serve as physiological markers of drug-seeking behavior. Thus, current work in the laboratory seeks: 1) to identify the molecular mechanisms that mediate the development and maintenance of phasic dopamine neurotransmission and 2) to determine how alterations in phasic dopamine dynamics contribute to behavioral alterations in psychiatric diseases, such as drug addiction. In this work, we use an interdisciplinary approach that combines in vivo electrochemistry (using fast scan cyclic voltammetry), cell and molecular biology, and behavioral pharmacology. The goal of our research is to provide new insight into the mechanistic basis of complex behavior and to guide the development of new therapeutic agents to treat psychiatric illnesses, such as drug addiction, which are characterized by maladaptive behavior.
Molecular mechanisms of phasic dopamine encoding of reward-related cues
Cholinergic receptor mechanisms in drug-taking and drug-seeking behavior
Identifying neurophysiological markers of cue-induced drug craving and relapse