Fondements comportementaux et neuronaux de la consommation et de l'abus d'alcool, et de la rechute

 

Nadia Chaudhri

Groupe de recheche en neurobiologie comportementale

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2015-2016

Fundamental learning processes that are important for daily survival play a central role in the use, misuse and abuse of alcohol. For example, through Pavlovian conditioning, the sight, smell and taste of alcohol can become cues that predict when alcohol is available. These cues can trigger strong psychological responses, such as craving for alcohol, which can motivate behaviours that lead to alcohol intake.

In my laboratory, we have developed several preclinical models of Pavlovian alcohol conditioning in rats. We combine these models with neuropharmacology, in-vivo optogenetics, immunohistochemistry and electrophysiology to examine the role of brain systems in the formation and expression of learned associations between environmental stimuli and alcohol. Using these techniques, we are currently pursuing three research projects that are based on the central hypothesis that environmental stimuli that become associated with alcohol can contribute to drinking and relapse.

Studies in Project 1 aim to identify neural processes that are needed for the expression of alcohol-seeking behaviours triggered by Pavlovian alcohol cues. Studies in Project 2 investigate brain mechanisms that mediate the inhibition of responding to Pavlovian cues that occurs when a cue is no longer followed by an expected event. Studies in Project 3 examine the effect of nicotine, the main active ingredient in tobacco, on alcohol-seeking behaviours triggered by Pavlovian alcohol cues. Translational research also tests the utility of compounds that act on the cholinergic system in the brain in preventing relapse to alcohol seeking behaviour. Through this research, we hope to expand our understanding of how alcohol use disorders develop and inform new treatments for alcohol dependence and addiction.