Marilyn Carroll-Santi, PhD

Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Marilyn Carroll-Santi

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-6289

Administrative Assistant Name
Teneshia Collins

Administrative Email


Marilyn Carroll-Santi is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Her 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, she conducts translational research with animal and human subjects on sex differences, stimulant addiction and novel treatments. Currently, she is 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.


Research Summary/Interests

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.


Smethells, JR, Greer, A, Dougen, B & Carroll, ME 2020, 'Effects of voluntary exercise and sex on multiply-triggered heroin reinstatement in male and female rats', Psychopharmacology, vol. 237, no. 2, pp. 453-463.

Tosun, NL, Allen, SS, Eberly, LE, Yao, M, Stoops, WW, Strickland, JC, Harrison, KA, al Absi, M & Carroll, ME 2018, 'Association of exercise with smoking-related symptomatology, smoking behavior and impulsivity in men and women' Drug and alcohol dependence, vol. 192, pp. 29-37.

Swalve, N, Smethells, JR, Younk, R, Mitchell, J, Dougen, B & Carroll, ME 2018, 'Sex-specific attenuation of impulsive action by progesterone in a go/no-go task for cocaine in rats' Psychopharmacology, vol. 235, no. 1, pp. 135-143.

Carroll, ME & Lynch, WJ 2016, 'How to study sex differences in addiction using animal models' Addiction Biology, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 1007-1029.

Martinez, LA, Gross, KS, Himmler, BT, Emmitt, NL, Peterson, BM, Zlebnik, NE, Foster Olive, M, Carroll, ME, Meisel, RL & Mermelstein, PG 2016, 'Estradiol facilitation of cocaine Self-Administration in female rats requires activation of mglur5' eNeuro, vol. 3, no. 5, e0140-16.2016.

Swalve, N, Smethells, JR & Carroll, ME 2016, 'Progesterone attenuates impulsive action in a Go/No-Go task for sucrose pellets in female and male rats' Hormones and Behavior, vol. 85, pp. 43-47.

Smethells, JR, Swalve, NL, Eberly, LE & Carroll, ME 2016, 'Sex differences in the reduction of impulsive choice (delay discounting) for cocaine in rats with atomoxetine and progesterone' Psychopharmacology, vol. 233, no. 15-16, pp. 2999-3008.

Swalve, NL, Smethells, JR & Carroll, ME 2016, 'Sex differences in attenuation of nicotine reinstatement after individual and combined treatments of progesterone and varenicline' Behavioural Brain Research, vol. 308, pp. 46-52.

Carroll, ME, Collins, M, Kohl, EA, Johnson, S & Dougen, B 2016, 'Sex and menstrual cycle effects on chronic oral cocaine self-administration in rhesus monkeys: Effects of a nondrug alternative reward' Psychopharmacology, vol. 233, no. 15-16, pp. 2973-2984.

Smethells, JR, Zlebnik, NE, Miller, DK, Will, MJ, Booth, F & Carroll, ME 2016, 'Cocaine self-administration and reinstatement in female rats selectively bred for high and low voluntary running' Drug and alcohol dependence, vol. 167, pp. 163-168.