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Rachel Smith

Assistant Professor
Areas of Speciality
  • Affective Science
  • Behavioral & Cellular Neuroscience
  • ILSB 3151B
Professional Links
Office Hours
Accepting Students
Yes for 2022-2023

Research Interests

  • Neurocircuitry of addiction and relapse
  • Role of neural stress systems in cue-induced drug seeking
  • Neuronal subpopulations within motivation-related structures

My primary research interests are the neurobiological mechanisms of drug addiction and the compulsive behaviors and maladaptive habits associated with this psychiatric disorder.  A central theme of my research thus far has been investigating the neurocircuitry and transmitter systems underlying cue-induced drug seeking.  Drug-associated cues are known to be powerful triggers of relapse in addicts and are capable of driving reinstatement of drug seeking in animal models as well.  I am interested in exploring how drug-associated cues become such powerful motivators during the addiction process.  The lab uses animal models of addiction, including the rodent self-administration paradigm.  We analyze behavior, neurotransmission, neurocircuitry, and genetic expression related to addiction, and we utilize virus technologies for optogenetic, DREADD, and anatomical tracing studies.

Recent Publications

Smith RJ, Vento PJ, Chao YS, Good CH, Jhou TC (2019) Gene expression and neurochemical characterization of the rostromedial tegmental nucleus (RMTg) in mice and rats. Brain Structure & Function 224(1):219-238.

Smith RJ, Laiks LSG (2018) Behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying habitual and compulsive drug seeking. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 87:11-21.

Smith AC, Scofield MD, Heinsbroek JA, Gipson CD, Neuhofer D, Roberts-Wolfe DJ, Spencer S, Garcia-Keller C, Stankeviciute NM, Smith RJ, Allen NP, Lorang MR, Griffin WC 3rd, Boger HA, Kalivas PW (2017) Accumbens nNOS interneurons regulate cocaine relapse. J Neurosci 37(4):742-56.