Determining developmental risk factors for addiction and novel treatments based on learning and memory systems.
Dr. Torregrossa’s research program focuses on understanding how motivational, cognitive, and learning and memory systems are altered in psychiatric disorders and to use biochemical and proteomic methods to find novel means of prevention and treatment. Current projects ongoing in the laboratory include understanding how learning and memory systems are affected by long-term exposure to drugs of abuse, and using animal models to determine how manipulations of learning and memory may be used to treat addiction and prevent relapse, including enhancing extinction learning an/or disrupting memory reconsolidation. In addition, Dr. Torregrossa is interested in how environmental and genetic factors interact to produce vulnerability to addiction and “risky” personality traits, such as impulsivity. Dr. Torregrossa’s research program is particularly interested in how high levels of stress and stress hormones during critical prefrontal cortical developmental windows, including adolescence, increase long-term risk for psychiatric disorders such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and anxiety disorders.
The laboratory complements sophisticated behavioral analysis using operant conditioning and drug self-administration procedures in rodents with molecular biological, biochemical and proteomic techniques. The goal of the laboratory is to understand how the activity of signaling molecules and circuits are altered after environmental experiences that increase risk for addiction and in response to memories associated with drugs of abuse. The ultimate goal is to manipulate these molecules in the animal model and identify novel treatments for addiction.
Torregrossa, M.M. and Taylor, J.R. Learning to forget: manipulating extinction and reconsolidation processes to treat addiction. Psychopharmacology DOI: 10.1007/s00213-012-2750-9, 2012.
Torregrossa, M.M., Xie, M. and Taylor, J.R. Chronic corticosterone exposure during adolescence reduces impulsive action but increases impulsive choice and sensitivity to yohimbine in male Sprague-Dawley rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 37: 1656-1670, 2012.
Torregrossa, M.M., Corlett, P. and Taylor, J.R. Aberrant learning and memory in addiction. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 96: 609-623, 2011.
Torregrossa, M.M., Sanchez, H. and Taylor, J.R. D-cycloserine reduces the context specificity of Pavlovian extinction of cocaine cues through actions in the nucleus accumbens. Journal of Neuroscience 30: 10526-10533, 2010.
Torregrossa, M.M., *, Sanchez, H.*, Quinn, J.J.*, and Taylor, J.R. Reconsolidation of a cocaine-associated stimulus requires amygdalar protein kinase A. Journal of Neuroscience 30: 4401-4407, 2010. *co-first author