Dr. Michael Hanna: Disruption of Methamphetamine Associated Memories

Disruption of Methamphetamine Associated Memories. In humans, the retrieval of memories associated with drug-administration frequently evokes drug-seeking behavior. In fact, one of the reasons for the low rate of recovery from addiction is due to exposure of drug cues which trigger a strong craving for the drug. As a result of a neural processes known as reconsolidation it is believed that when an establish memory is trigger again, the memory returns to a state in which it is labile and must be strengthened again. It is during this phase of reconsolidation that a memory is susceptible to being altered or even abolished.

  • The aim of this research project will specifically focus on understanding the brain circuitry, brain areas, cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in reconsolidation and cue-elicited drug cravings. In this project, students will be using the condition place preference (CPP) paradigm to study the molecular processes involved in the formation of memories that are associated with drug administration.
  • Students will train rats to associate certain cues (such as black walls and pine bedding) with administration of methamphetamine. As it has been shown that consolidation requires the activation of the NDMA glutamate receptor to initiate a cascade of cellular processes that leads to active synapses, students will expose rats to methamphetamine-associated cues, inject a glutamate antagonist, and then examine (through analysis of the rats’ behavior in the CPP cage) the stability of the memory cue to induce drug-seeking behavior. The time-frame in which the glutamate antagonist is needed for the disruption of reconsolidation will also be determined. Eventually, the effects of blocking specific early immediate genes on cue-induced drug seeking behavior will also be accessed.

Students will potentially have the opportunity to present at SfN (society for neuroscience) and CNS (cognitive neuroscience society). Dates for these conferences have not yet been posted.