News and Events

2021 MDTA and Center Pilot Program Awardees

Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein: “Cocaine Actions on the Cerebellum Influence Drug Reward”

Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein will investigate how cocaine actions on the cerebellum influence drug reward:  Drs. Cvetanovic and Mermelstein write: recent “studies suggest that cocaine promotes activation of the neurons in deep cerebellar nuclei that in turn modulate the reward circuitry within the brain. However, the identity of the neuronal cell types comprising the cerebellum-VTA circuit and whether cerebellar activation is required for the rewarding effects of cocaine remain unknown. This proposal seeks to answer these questions.”

Drs. Groman and Zimmermann: “Neurodevelopmental circuits underlying decision-making and addiction susceptibility”

Drs. Groman and Zimmermann will investigate the circuit development that occurs during adolescence and impacts: “Adolescence is a critical developmental stage in which the brain undergoes a profound reorganization, including the formation and stabilization of neural circuits that are involved in decision making and addiction. We have recently demonstrated that value-based decision-making improves across adolescent development in the rat and is related to the reinforcement-learning mechanism that predicts drug use in adulthood. We hypothesize that these decision-making improvements are due to age-related changes in the amygdala-OFC circuit and, specifically, that measures of amygdala-OFC connectivity during adolescent development could serve as a noninvasive biomarker of addiction susceptibility in humans. This proposal will test these hypotheses by combining sophisticated decision-making assessments with in vivo MR neuroimaging, drug self-administration, optogenetic approaches, and ex vivo tractography across adolescent development in the rat.”

Drs. Redish and Saunders: “Novel use of dual-channel fiber photometry for simultaneous measurement of norepinephrine and dopamine in rat medial prefrontal cortex”

Drs. Redish and Saunders will develop dual-channel fiber photometry for simultaneous measurement of norepinephrine and dopamine in rat medial prefrontal cortex.  Drs. Redish and Saunders write: “Addiction is characterized as a breakdown of decision-making processes. A central brain area in decision making is the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). An often-underappreciated component of mPFC processing is the role of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) as neuromodulators. Careful study of the dynamics of these modulators has historically been difficult, but new advances in imaging techniques and fluorescent biosensors have begun to open the door.  The goal of this project is to develop the capability of dual-channel fiber photometry capable of measuring DA and NE levels simultaneously yet separably from behaving rats."