Dr. Carmen S. Maldonado-Vlaar

University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
College of Natural Sciences

Research Project:  Neurobiology of Addiction

Description: The ongoing work in the lab has three goals. The first goal is aimed at characterizing the behavioral and molecular effects of spatial novelty on the acquisition of intravenous cocaine self-administration (SA). The second goal of the present proposal is to focus on the functional role of CREB phosphorylation within the NAc and limbic-related structures in novelty-elicited acquisition of cocaine SA. This aim includes using antisense oligonucleotide technology to examine the role of newly synthesized CREB in recognition of spatial novelty prior to cocaine SA. Findings from these proposed experiments will provide new data on the involvement of CREB regulation within Nac in eliciting novelty-induced behaviors related to cocaine reward. Finally, the last goal of the present proposal is to characterize the role of the protein kinase C (PKC) within the Nac in the phosphorylation of CREB elicited by spatial novelty effects on cocaine SA in rats. Experimental results from this goal will also contribute to establishing the specific role of protein kinase C (PKC) within the NAc in regulating CREB phosphorylation in novelty-elicited acquisition of cocaine SA. To accomplish these goals, direct brain drug microinfusions will be used in conjunction with cocaine intravenous SA and novelty protocols in rats. Protein analysis of CREB phosphorylation will be conducted in all studies.