Research Opportunity: Dr. Christine Duvauchelle (Pharmacy) seeking Student Research Assistant

A brief description of research project:
Preventing relapse to drug use is one of the most difficult obstacles in
treating cocaine addiction. A notorious trigger for cocaine relapse is cocaine
craving: a subjective, emotional response that can be activated by
cocaine-associated cues. We are working on a project to develop animal models
of cocaine craving in cocaine-experienced rats by recording ultrasonic
vocalizations (USVs) that rats emit while occupying cocaine-predictive
environments. Though undetectable to the human ear, rats communicate using
ultrasonic vocalizations that vary in a number of characteristics, including
bandwidth, frequency and duration. USVs can express positive and negative
emotional states that are readily discernible and differ in frequency ranges
and duration. We have recently shown that positive USVs reflecting positive
emotion are emitted by rats when they anticipate or self-administer cocaine,
but decrease during when cocaine is no longer available. We have also found
that after periods of abstinence from cocaine, USVs increase when cocaine or
cues associated with cocaine are encountered. USVs are a direct reflection of
emotional states, and our data suggest that USVs may signal cocaine craving in
a drug-free environment. In addition, we plan to use USVs as targets for
pharmacological intervention. This new understanding of cocaine relapse will
help to develop long-term treatments and begin to solve the problems of drug

A brief description of the responsibilities of the student assistant:
New students in the laboratory start out by learning how to analyze and
tabulate USV data, prepare XL spreadsheets and graphs and attend laboratory
meetings for the first semester. If the student shows proficiency in those
tasks and in the responsibilities associated with being in a research
laboratory, they may move to tasks requiring more hourly commitments and
responsibility, such as animal handling (rats), assisting in training rats
in operant tasks and assisting senior students in their experiments. With
additional training, some students may be allowed to observe and assist in
animal surgery.

The semester(s) you would like the student to be available:
Spring 2011 with special preference given to students who can volunteer in the
laboratory over the summer

A list of any special qualifications or restrictions for applicants:
Undergraduate science major (including psychology)

Instructions regarding how to apply (e.g. what materials you want from
students, how you want to be contacted and by what deadline):
Please include resume that includes personal statement and grade summary

posted by Gwen Stovall

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