Detection of changes in brain structure and connectivity induced by formation, extinction and reconsolidation of alcohol-related memories
Alcoholism is a chronic disorder with high rates of relapse, induced by consumption-related contextual cues. Extinction of the cue-alcohol association by prolonged or repeated exposure to cues alone reduces craving temporarily, but the memory often recovers, evoking relapse. Thus, disruption of cue-alcohol memories is a potential target for alcohol relapse prevention. Current theories hold that memories undergo a transient instability period through a process called reconsolidation, during which they can be altered or replaced. Reconsolidation is triggered by memory retrieval via a brief exposure to the cue alone. Therefore, procedural resemblance between extinction and reconsolidation may lead to non-effective relapse treatments. Understanding of the neural circuits involved in these processes could help to reshape an improved therapeutic strategy.
My main goal in this project is to study the neurobiological mechanisms underlying formation, extinction and reconsolidation of alcohol associated memories. Our method includes behavioral paradigms, non-invasive techniques (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) as well as invasive techniques (immuno-histology), for the purpose of creating a framework for identification, localization, and understanding the dynamics of this processes.
Research Categories: Behavioral Neuroscience