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Neurobiological Underpinnings of Addictions

Colorized image of human brain

Photo credit: National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

RIA scientists conduct groundbreaking research about the brain mechanisms that create a vulnerability to addiction in order to develop alternative approaches to treating addiction.

Research at RIA focused on the neurobiological underpinnings of addiction ranges widely from prenatal and postnatal substance exposure on the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathway; to the endocannabinoid (eCB) system and stress response and anxiety-related behavior; to neuropeptides, craving and anxiety during abstinence; to animal models of risky behavior and impulsivity.

Current neurobiological projects underway at RIA include:


Haj-Dahmane | Kaczocha
The goal of this study is to help develop inhibitors for Fatty Acid Binding Proteins (FABPs) in the brain to aid in new treatments of anxiety disorders and addiction.


Shen | Haj-Dahmane | Dlugos
Researchers will study prenatal exposure to ethanol and how that might alter brain mechanisms that influence addiction.


Thompson | Straubinger | Qu
This project developed analytic methods to conduct large-scale analyses of brain peptides to (a) better understand how cocaine abuse changes brain activity and (b) identify changes of relapse vulnerability.


Deutsch | Haj-Dahmane
The main goal of this study was to help develop pharmaceutical drugs that may help remedy pain, stress and/or withdrawal from drug abuse.


Thompson | DiPirro
This research tested the hypothesis that increasing the levels of neuropeptide Y (a peptide neuromodulator) in the brain will reduce anxiety and craving for cocaine.

RIA Scientists Investigating the Neurobiological Underpinnings of Addiction: