Skip to main content
Publications of the Week

A Conditioned Place Preference for Heroin Is Signaled by Increased Dopamine and Direct Pathway Activity and Decreased Indirect Pathway Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens

By February 3, 2022No Comments

Read the Publication

This week we profile a recent publication in the Journal of Neuroscience from the laboratory of Dr. Susan Ferguson at the Center for Integrative Brain Research and UW.

Can you provide a brief overview of your lab’s current research focus?

My lab uses a multi-level approach that integrates molecular biology, circuit-mapping and behavioral neuroscience to study the neurobiological mechanisms that regulate individual susceptibility to drug use and addiction. In particular, we use rodent models to study addiction-related behaviors and circuits following use of opioids, stimulants and polysubstance use of both drug classes.

What is the significance of the findings in this publication?

In this study, we were able to identify the neural circuits in the brain the encode the reinforcing properties of heroin. Specifically, we found that entering a context paired with heroin is associated with increased dopamine signaling and activity in the direct (i.e., “go”) pathway of the nucleus accumbens whereas leaving this context is associated with increased activity in the indirect (i.e., “stop”) pathway.

What are the next steps for this research?

We plan to follow-up these experiments by examining the neural circuits in the brain that regulate drug-taking and drug-seeking behaviors of opioids. These experiments would give us a better understanding of how dopamine and these two pathways in the nucleus accumbens regulate drug use and relapse.

 If you’d like us to mention your funding sources, please list them.

 This work was funded by NIDA and the UW Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute.

Read the Publication