Neural Mechanisms that Underlie Relapse of Cocaine Addiction
My research focuses on investigating the role of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) on relapse of cocaine addiction. The BNST, a brain region that is critical for stress and anxiety responses, shows alterations in neurotransmission following long-term cocaine use. Currently, I am investigating the interaction between the stress sensitive neurotransmitters norepinephrine and corticotrophin releasing factor within the BNST of naïve and cocaine-exposed animals. I am using a combination of electrophysiological, molecular, and pharmacological approaches to assess this interaction. This work will further our understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie how stress induces addiction and relapse.