(July 23, 2015) -- Why do cocaine abusers continue to take the drug and what are the long-term effects? Those are questions a UTSA researcher is hoping to answer.
Carlos Paladini, associate professor of biology in the UTSA Neurosciences Institute, has been awarded a five-year, $555,000 grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Drug Abuse to study the long-term affects of cocaine use on drug abusers.
According to Paladini, drug abusers who have taken cocaine for a long time still get a little bit of a high every time they take it. When that high ends, however, they start feeling terrible. To avoid that feeling, they take more cocaine to regain the high.
Using mouse models, Paladini’s research team will study a part of the brain known as the striatum, located in the brain’s interior regions. When cocaine reaches the brain, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released into the striatum.
As a part of the study, the mice have to perform a task where they press a lever with their paw. If they press it a certain amount of times the mice receive cocaine.
Paladini states that as cocaine is taken, the brain changes. Cocaine’s effect on the striatum is inhibitory and activity in the striatum is turned off or slowed down. Over time, Paladini hypothesizes, there is a switch in the brain and cocaine starts making the striatum even more active than it normally is.
“We think that we can artificially change a switch in the brain in which we can have animals perform behaviors for cocaine in such a way that is similar to the way that humans would act when they become really addicted to drugs,” added Paladini. “We can switch on addiction just by changing this switch in the striatum without animals having ever taken cocaine. We can also try and switch it off while the mice are taking cocaine and reduce a lot of the effects of cocaine in the brain.”
Paladini says that the brain’s dopamine system is a very powerful system because addictive drugs hijack the brain’s reward system.
To learn more, visit Carlos Paladini’s research laboratory.
Ron Ellis conducts the student instrumental ensemble in a free concert that is open to the public.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (Arts 2.03.02), Main Campus
The UTSA Office of Veteran and Military Affairs is hosting a day full of outreach events and activities by the U.S. Navy as part of a larger Navy presence in San Antonio called Navy Week with various events in the community through Feb. 25.
Student Union Paseo and Convocation Center entrance, Main Campus
Join this interactive play that is a courtroom drama and the audience is the jury. Discussion and will follow.
Student Union, Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Langston Clark, UTSA assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition will discuss exploring the historical context for the role of black athletes in contemporary social movements.
John Peace Library, Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.
Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.
Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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