18Jul The role of environmental and taste cues in nicotine/alcohol interactions

The role of environmental and taste cues in nicotine/alcohol interactions

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Presenter: Paul Meyer, Ph.D.


A major problem with both nicotine addiction and alcoholism is the craving and relapse induced by individuals’ heightened responsivity to the people, places, and other cues associated with drinking and smoking. Our work in rats shows that some individuals are particularly sensitive to the effects of cues on drug-seeking behavior, and that nicotine exposure exacerbates this effect in complex ways.  For example, our work shows that nicotine enhances the response to environmental cues associated with alcohol, but prevents conditioned aversion to taste cues associated with alcohol-induced illness. Regarding this latter effect, our work suggests that nicotine interferes with taste cue learning by activating acetylcholine neurons that project from the basal forebrain to the insular cortex.  Together, it appears that nicotine affects environmental and taste cues differentially, which work in concert to enhance alcohol seeking while reducing conditioned aversions to alcohol tastes.


Paul Meyer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo (UB). He received his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience under the mentorship of Tamara J. Phillips at Oregon Health & Sciences University, where he studied the neurobehavioral adaptations caused by repeated alcohol exposure. His postdoctoral training with Terry Robinson and Wayne Aldridge at the University of Michigan involved studies on the neural basis of cue-responsivity and the role of the brain's motivational circuit in addiction-related behavior. Dr. Meyer combines this training in his laboratory at UB, where he conducts studies examining the neural and genetic bases of cue-responsivity and other behaviors related to drug addiction.


Jul 18, 2017 02:00 PM (UTC-5)
Jul 18, 2017 03:00 PM (UTC-5)
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