Context-induced relapse to alcohol-seeking after voluntary abstinence

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Erin Campbell
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Andrew Lawrence

Summary The Addiction Neuroscience Laboratory at Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. Our overarching research aim is to understand the brain mechanisms that drive drug and alcohol-seeking, and relapse to drug-seeking after a period of abstinence. We are also interested in the effects of chronic drug and alcohol intake on cognition and behaviour. Our lab employs a range of different behavioural and molecular techniques to investigate cellular and circuitry changes that occur as a result of exposure to drugs and alcohol, and how these changes may lead to the compulsive behaviour that is characteristic of addiction.

Project Details

Substance abuse is a major health care problem. Accordingly, there is a real need to increase our fundamental understanding of the processes behind addiction, so that more targeted therapeutic strategies can follow. We have identified a potentially critical neural mechanism by which alcohol associated environments promote alcohol seeking during abstinence. We will further unravel the brain mechanisms of relapse to alcohol seeking, and will identify novel brain areas and circuits that future clinical studies can target in treatment-seeking alcoholics A limitation identified in animal models is that abstinence is achieved 'non-voluntarily' (experimenter-imposed). In humans, however, abstinence is typically voluntary (self-imposed), despite drug availability and often out of a desire to avoid the negative consequence associated with excessive alcohol use. A recently developed animal model addresses this limitation. In this model, the laboratory animal abstains voluntarily from alcohol use when alcohol-seeking is associated with a negative consequence. We will combine this novel animal model of relapse with an innovative procedure to manipulate neurons in defined neural circuits to determine which neuropeptides are critical for context-induced relapse to alcohol seeking.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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