Posted on Monday, February 19, 2018
Assistant professor and chair of the neuroscience program Dr. Deanne Buffalari recently published a book chapter in an edited volume entitled The Neuroscience of Cocaine: Mechanisms and Treatment. Her chapter, "Nicotine and cocaine interactions: focus on dopamine pharmacology, neuroadaptations, and behavior relevant to addiction," focuses on how nicotine and cocaine might interact at the cellular and behavioral level to promote drug use, escalation to addiction and the risk of relapse.
"There is a great deal of overlap in the population that smokes cigarettes and uses cocaine," explains Buffalari. "That drives our interest in how these drugs affect the brain and influence behavior."
Buffalari recently published research examining how nicotine alters rewarding and aversive stimulus control of behavior. Her current work on nicotine focuses specifically on looking at processes that are relevant to how nicotine might increase the risk of drug relapse after abstinence.
As Buffalari explores the interactions between nicotine and cocaine, undergraduates are also working hard to learn more about the two drugs. Alumna and current medical school student Ashlyn Brown and junior neuroscience major Anna Lish are working on a manuscript detailing their research alongside Buffalari and are aiming to submit for publication in the next few months. Junior neuroscience major Ashley Barker also hopes to continue some of this work for her neuroscience capstone project.