- Areas of Speciality
- Behavioral & Cellular Neuroscience
- Faculty Advisor
- Rachel Smith
My primary research interests concern the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction and relapse. One aspect of this disorder is compulsive drug seeking and use that persists despite the threat of harmful consequences. I am interested in investigating this further through the use of rodent models, which have been used to demonstrate distinct responses that characterize habitual and compulsive behaviors. Much like in humans, compulsive drug seeking in rodents can be distinguished by insensitivity to negative consequences. Understanding this phenomenon and the relationship that may exist between compulsive and habitual drug seeking can aid in understanding the development of addiction.
Another aspect of the disorder that contributes to the occurrence of relapse, is an association formed between the drug and context in which the drug was consumed. My research interests also extend to cue-induced reinstatement, which can describe the influence of drug associated cues on the recurrence of drug-seeking behaviors. I am particularly interested in understanding the neurocircuitry involved in propagating and inhibiting cue-induced reinstatement. It’s important to determine the neuronal populations involved in reinstatement to further develop an understanding of the addiction cycle.