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Synaptic Plasticity in the Dopaminergic Reward Pathway
Monday, March 21, 2005,
12:00:00 PM Time displayed is Eastern Time, Washington DC Local
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The lab of Julie Kauer focuses on understanding molecular mechanisms involved in information storage and modulation of excitability in the brain, using electrophysiological and optical techniques in brain slices. Much of her original work has focused on the hippocampus, a region required for normal formation of long-term memory. However, most recently, her efforts have been concentrated in two brain regions involved in reward. the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the nucleus accumbens. These areas are essential in the development of drug addiction. Her lab is currently testing the idea that drugs of abuse act directly in the VTA to cause long-term synaptic modifications that could mediate the intense craving produced by these drugs. The enhancement of craving appears to result directly from long-term changes in the nucleus accumbens as a result of VTA activation by chronic drug exposure.