Department of Neuroscience
University of Minnesota
Although most individuals will use a drug of abuse at least once in their lifetime, only a subset of these individuals will ever become addicted. This suggests that some individuals may be more vulnerable to developing an addiction compared to others and, importantly, if we can identify the neurobiological mechanisms mediating this susceptibility, that addiction may be a preventable disorder. Our work in rats has been using a reinforcement-learning framework to probe the neurobiology of addiction pathology and, notably, to delineate the mechanisms of addiction susceptibility from those that are disrupted by drug use. Here, I will present data indicating that the decision-making processes that predict drug use differ from those that are disrupted following drug use and describe how we have been using this framework to elucidate the neural circuits and biological mechanisms of addiction pathology. This multidisciplinary work – integrating complex behavioral assessments with computational, viral, and neuroimaging approaches in rats – highlights the power of preclincial work for uncovering the mechanisms of addiction.
View this recorded session here.