Research & Publications
We are using novel, creative PET paradigms to gain insight into the neurochemical mechanisms that drive and promote the recovery from addiction and psychiatric disorders. PET allows us to measure specific molecules in the living human brain. We are particularly interested in identifying deficits in the cholinergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic neurotransmitter systems and in the neuroimmune system in people who drink and use drugs and how these systems change during recovery. We are uncovering variables such as stress, sex, neurocognitive function, mood, and psychiatric status that influence these changes. We are also examining the neuroadaptations that occur in individuals with PTSD including changes in epigenetics, and in the glucocorticoid and neuroimmune systems. In addition to PET, we incorporate structural and functional MRI in our studies and we are developing and performing dual-tracer and multi-modal analyses to fully leverage our data sets.
Specialized Terms: Positron Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging; Alcohol Use Disorder; Tobacco Smoking; Opioid Use Disorder; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; Brain; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; Glutamate; Sex differences, Dopamine; Neuroimmune; Synaptic Plasticity
Extensive Research Description
- Understanding the functional basis and behavioral and cognitive correlates of the changes in beta2*-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor availability during acute and prolonged abstinence in tobacco smokers.
- Examining the changes in mglu5 receptor availability that occur during acute and prolonged abstinence from alcohol and nicotine dependence.
- Radiotracer development targeted at the stress and glucocorticoid systems.
- Examination of sex differences in the dopaminergic signature of smoking- and nicotine-induced dopamine release using novel PET brain imaging techniques.
- Examining effects of chronic alcohol consumption on the neuroimmune system and relationships to synaptic plasticity in living humans with alcohol use disorder.
- Examining the stress and neuroimmune system with PET and the application to psychiatric disorders such as PTSD.
- Measuring the neuroimmune state of the brain in individuals with opioid use disorder during early recovery.
Alcohol Drinking; Brain; Opioid-Related Disorders; Neurobiology; Nicotine; Radiology; Positron-Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging; alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor; Diseases; Chemicals and Drugs; Psychiatry and Psychology