Neurophysiological substrates of inter-individual vulnerability to cocaine dependence and its modulation by environmental conditions

Aude belin-rauscent

Nationality French

Year of selection 2009

Institution INSERM - NN&P Institute

Country France

Risk Health

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

1 year

60000 €

Drug Addiction and Impulsivity – What happens in the brain?

There are very few efficient therapeutical and preventive strategies against drug dependence, mainly because factors that contribute to the vulnerability to addiction remain unknown. Impulsivity is a marker of vulnerability to addiction. Dr Aude Rauscent aims at understanding whether impulsivity and addiction in rats share similar alterations of brain plasticity processes. For this, she records neuronal activity in the brain of vulnerable and non impulsive rats exposed to cocaine. Dr Rauscent also investigates the influence of the environment on addiction by raising impulsive/non impulsive rats in enriched (known to protect against addiction) vs standard environment. Dr Rauscent studies whether differential stimulations interact with drug-induced plasticity in vulnerable and non-vulnerable animals. This project could be a crucial step to develop preventive strategies in vulnerable population and therapeutical tools in patients.

Drug addiction is a prominent psychatric disorder of modern societies, affecting 10 to 30% of the individuals exposed to licit or illicit psychoactive substances. Not much is known about mechanisms involved in the transition from casual to compulsive drug use, the hallmark of drug addiction. My project aims to identify in rats the biological, psychological and neurophysiological mechanisms involved in the vulnerability to develop cocaine addiction. We will investigate whether this vulnerability is associated with alterations of functional corticostriatal relationships and differential synaptic plasticity processes within the dorsal striatum.

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