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School of Science Institute for
Mathematical Modeling and
Computational Science

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Computational Systems Neuroscience of Addictive Drug Action 

PI: A. Kuznetsov (Dept. Mathematical Sciences, IUPUI)

Drug 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.