Researchers will study how chronic cocaine use changes neurobiological functions in the brain, in hopes to identify possible pharmaceutical therapies to combat addiction.
Cocaine abuse and addiction remains a significant public health challenge, yet there continues to be a relatively poor understanding of the molecular events that lead to the “addicted brain.” This study will investigate the role of activin receptor signaling cascades in mediating the long-lasting changes in the brain's reward circuits, which contribute to the complex behavioral abnormalities that comprise an addicted state. To date there is no effective pharmacotherapy for addiction to stimulants, such as cocaine, highlighting the dire need for further understanding of how such drugs of abuse “re-wire” the brain. The findings from the work in this application will elucidate mechanisms by which chronic cocaine exposure induces long-term changes in plasticity of NAc neurons, and provides new directions for the development of novel therapies for cocaine addiction.
David Dietz, PhD
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)