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Psychopharmacology | Lab Members

Heather King

hk9905a@student.american.edu

Curriculum Vitae

 

I am a fifth-year Ph.D. student in the Psychopharmacology Laboratory at American University. My primary research interests involve the rewarding and aversive effects of drugs of abuse and the implications of these effects for general drug acceptability and subsequent abuse potential. I am interested in each of these effects, their potential interaction to impact abuse vulnerability and their neurological mediation.

My previous work has focused on the effects of a history of morphine-induced-aversions on the subsequent ability of morphine to support place preference conditioning. In my initial work, I found that such a history had no effect. These findings suggest that morphine’s affective properties condition multiple effects, and these effects are dependent on the specific stimuli present during conditioning. I tested this possibility using a blocking preparation in which animals with a taste aversion history were given place preference conditioning in the context of the morphine-associated taste. Place preference conditioning was intact in these subjects, suggesting drugs of abuse have multiple stimulus effects that are differentially associated with specific stimuli that drive different behavioral responses.

Currently, I am preparing my dissertation studies, which will investigate the influence of both sex and age differences on 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)-induced reward and aversion. Given that our lab has demonstrated that MDPV does produce dose-dependent taste aversions, I recently investigated the ability of the same drug at the same doses to produce conditioned place preferences, and will be submitting that data for publication shortly. Given a) the established vulnerabilities of adolescents to the rewarding properties of drugs of abuse, b) the apparent insensitivity of adolescents to the aversive effects of many drugs, and c) plentiful data showing sex-dependent differences in drug aversion and reward, my intention is to investigate these factors concurrently and determine how sex and age may contribute to the subjective effects of MDPV and thus its general abuse potential.


PUBLICATIONS

Wetzell, BB; Muller, MM; Flax, SM; King, HE; Decicco-Skinner, KL; Riley, AL. (Under review). Effect of preexposure on methylphenidate-induced taste avoidance and related BDNF/TrkB activity in the rat. Psychopharmacology.

King, HE; Wetzell, BB; Rice, KC; Riley, AL. (Under review). MDPV-induced taste avoidance in the F344/N and LEW rat strains. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior.

King, HK; Riley, AL (2013). Effect of history of taste aversion learning on place preference conditioning in rats. Learning and Behavior. [PDF]

 

CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

 

Poster Presentations

King, HE, Riley, AL. (2014, August). A history of morphine-induced taste aversion learning fails to affect morphine-induced place preference conditioning in rats. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

King, HE, Rice, KC, Riley, AL. (2014, June). MDPV-induced conditioned taste aversions in the F344/N and LEW rat strains. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

King, HE, Wetzell, B, Rice, KC, Riley, AL. (2014, March). F344 and LEW rats do not differ in 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)- induced taste aversions. Poster presented at the Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference, Washington, DC.

Muller, MM., Wetzell, BB., Flax, SM., King, HE. and Riley, AL. (2014, March). Effect of methylphenidate preexposure on methylphenidate-induced conditioned taste avoidance. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

King, HE, Riley, AL. (2013, March). Effect of History of Taste Aversion Conditioning on Place Preference Learning In Rats. Poster presented at the Robyn Rafferty Mathias Student Research Conference, Washington, DC.

King, HE, Riley, AL. (2012, June). Effect of history of taste aversion learning on place preference conditioning in rats. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Palm Springs, CA.

Heather King

    Heather King