abuse is a serious public health problem that affects every society.
Each year drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or
injuries among people in the United States. The NIH institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA) is focused on bringing the power of science to bear on
drug abuse and addiction.Most drugs of abuse directly affect a brain
circuitry called central dopamine system. The neurons synthesizing and
releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine are at the hart of this system.
The pathways by which the drugs of abuse influence the dopamine system
are quite different. However, they all end up with very similar
alterations in the functioning of the dopamine system. These
alterations are directly connected with the mental states induced by
drugs or their withdrawal. The project is focused on building a
theory of drug influence that connects the cellular, circuit and
behavioral levels. The theory will be developed and embodied as a
computational model of the central dopamine system affected by the
drugs. We focus on two drugs - cocaine and alcohol. Multiple molecular
targets of these drugs within the dopamine system are spelled out in
the literature. The influence of the drugs in the behavior is also
extensively described. However, different publications are sometimes
hard to reconcile. Data at the intermediate level between molecular and
behavioral - electrophysiological recording of particular neuron groups
- are mostly missing. Our project will fill this gap by modeling
predictions, future testing of which will validate the theory.