Cellular and Synaptic Physiology During the Progression to Nicotine Abuse
Goals: Tobacco use perpetuated by addiction to nicotine is the leading cause of death in the USA . A combination of physiological studies applied at multiple levels of neuronal integration will examine the changes in dopamine signals in the midbrain and in the dorsal and ventral striatum arising from acute and progressively chronic nicotine use. Neuroadaptations in the brain will be determined to understand the progressive changes that precede and accompany addiction.
Relevance of the project to IDDRC mission:
The project examines synaptic and system level events that underlie reward-based behavioral changes. The work is aimed at understanding how reward-based learning alters neural systems. These same processes are impaired during mental retardation, where associative and declarative memories (like those being studied) become impaired.