I am currently a senior at American University studying psychology, biology, and justice. This is my second year in the Psychopharmacology Laboratory, where I hope to develop a greater understanding of the factors that contribute to the balance between the rewarding and aversive effects of drugs of abuse, and their subsequent contributions to abuse vulnerability. I have recently been spending much of my time in the lab developing a skill set in behavioral research, specifically utilizing the Conditioned Taste Aversion (CTA) preparation, where animals form an association between the aversive effects of a drug of abuse and a novel sweet-tasting solution, particularly saccharin. A reduction in saccharin consumption as a result of the formation of a CTA provides valuable data about the negative aversive effects of drugs.
I am currently working with graduate students investigating age differences in response to MDMA (“Ecstasy”). For a number of other abused drugs (such as amphetamine, cocaine, THC and morphine), adolescent animals display a weaker aversive response than their adult counterparts at the same doses. This is of particular importance given that usage of MDMA in adolescent humans has been increasing in recent years, while the “perceived risk” of dangerous side effects has been decreasing. I look forward to collaborating on more projects in the lab and developing my skills in neuropharmacology.
Cobuzzi, JL, Siletti, KA, Riley, AL. (2012, June). Effect of morphine pretreatment on naloxone-induced conditioned taste aversions. Poster presented at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence 74th Meeting, Palm Springs, CA.