Research & Publications
We are using novel, creative PET paradigms to gain insight into the neurochemical mechanisms that drive 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 and dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems in tobacco smokers and how these systems change during acute and prolonged abstinence from smoking. We are uncovering the variables, such as sex, neurocognitive function, psychiatric status and genetic makeup that influence these changes. We are also examining the neuroadaptations that occur during the recovery from alcohol dependence including changes in the GABA-ergic system, the neuroimmune system, and synaptic plasticity.
Specialized Terms: Positron Emission Tomography; Neuroimaging; Alcohol Dependence; Tobacco Smoking; Nicotine Dependence; Brain; nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; GABAA-benzodiazepine receptor; Sex differences, Dopamine
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