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RESEARCH FOCUS

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:

5/23/16
Richards | Lucke | Meyer
Researchers will explore the link between addiction and various behaviors, such as response to novelty, sustained attention, reaction time and preferences for rewards. 
1/26/16
Komatsu | Thanos | Hadjiargyrou
The overall goal of this research is to determine if methyphenidate (MP), sold as Ritalin, is harmful to skeletal development and if so, how to reduce its adverse effects.
12/5/16
Shen | Haj-Dahmane | Dlugos
Researchers will study prenatal exposure to ethanol and how that might alter brain mechanisms that influence addiction.
9/19/16
Cardozo | Thanos
Researchers are working to develop a combined cocaine and HIV vaccine based on a common protein scaffold shared by vaccines already in use.  
3/18/16
Thanos | Hajnal
Researchers will investigate the potential neurological causes of increased propensity for alcohol use disorders by individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery.
8/14/17
Walitzer | Blanco | Stewart | Swiatek
Researchers will study the effectiveness of an alcohol treatment program which combines the medication Naltrexone with behavioral counseling and participation in mutual-help organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
10/3/17
Grewen | Eiden
Researchers will study the effects of prenatal cocaine and other drug exposures including opiates on the development of infant brain connections during the first year of life.

RIA Scientists Investigating the Neurobiological Underpinnings of Addiction: