My research is focused on understanding brain plasticity associated with drug addiction, mood/anxiety disorders, as well as co-morbid syndromes like sleep apnea. We are specifically aiming to answer the following questions: 1) Do glutamate receptor-interacting proteins like the superoxide generating NOX enzyme play a role in opiate related plasticity? 2) Do polymorphisms in genes for neurotrophins and other glutamate receptor-interacting molecules impact opiate mediated neurobehavioral plasticity? 3) How is the consolidation, extinction, and reinstatement of opiate context conditioning impacted by anxiety/mood disorders.
We have characterized the synaptic organization of ionotropic glutamate receptors in the central nucleus of the amygdala. We have also shown that the synaptic location of ionotropic glutamate receptors is modified by exposure to opiates. and that spatial-temporal deletion of distinct ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits differentially impacts the expression of opiate context learning.