Marilyn Carroll-Santi

Professor Emeritus


I received my BS in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University. I completed my master's and PhD in Psychobiology and Neuroscience from Florida State University. I further completed my postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Pharmacology here at the University of Minnesota. I am an Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and my research is focused on factors that underlie drug and food addiction, such as genetic differences, impulsivity, and hormonal influences. As Director of a recent P50 Center grant, I conduct translational research with animal and human subjects on sex differences, stimulant addiction and novel treatments. Currently, I am developing animal models of novel self-initiated and -maintained long-term treatments for addiction with the translational goal of having addicted drug users manage their treatment and recovery over long periods of time. I have over 200 publications, 11,000 citations, and an h-index of 58.I have been awarded the University of Minnesota President's and Medical School's Neuroscience Initiative Award, every year since 2005. I am active in national and local community events including Brain Awareness Week, the Winter Conference on Brain Research Community Outreach and at the Minnesota State Fair's Neuroscience booth.


  • Behavioral pharmacology and biological factors in addiction
  • Environmental factors in addiction 
  • Novel behaviors and pharmacological treatment for drug abuse

Research Summary

The goal of my research is to develop behavioral and pharmacological methods for reducing and preventing drug abuse. In recent work with graduate students and postdocs, we examined the influence of individual differences such as impulsivity, sweet preference, sex/hormonal factors, and genetic factors that maintain drug addiction. A current interest is to understand treatment failure in human drug addicts, as success of treatments is no higher than self-quit methods. Our hypothesis is that treatments fail because craving incubates over long periods after treatment ends. We use self-initiated, self-maintained, long-term treatments, such as physical exercise, to block incubation of craving for weeks to months. We also study another aspect of incubated craving, multiply-triggered-relapse (MTR). After several weeks of forced abstinence we found that in addition to the previously-used drug, multiple cues in the environment (e.g., other drugs of abuse, common drugs such as caffeine and nicotine, and environmental cues) trigger relapse. Incubation of craving and MTR are the targets we are currently studying for treatment development. We are testing self-initiated, long-lasting and self-maintained treatments, such as voluntary exercise and social reward that, alone and/or together, are self-motivated and self-maintained long-term self-treatments for reducing incubation of craving and MTR. We are working with clinical addiction investigators and exercise physiologists to translate these treatment strategies to humans.


PhD, Florida State University
Major: Psychobiology & Neuroscience
BA, Pennsylvania State University
Major: Pre-Law
MS, Florida State University
Major: Psychobiology & Neuroscience
BS, Pennsylvania State University
Major: Psychology

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

NIDA Research Fellow,
University of Minnesota, National Institute of Drug Abuse, Department of Psychiatry
Predoctoral Fellowship,
Florida State University, National Institutes of Health Psychobiology/Neuroscience Traineeship, Departments of Psychology and Biology



625-C Diehl H
505 Essex St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455