Barbara A. Sorg, Ph.D.
Director, WSU Alcohol
and Drug Abuse Program
ocation: WSU Vancouver
Office: Located in Classroom (VCLS) 208F
The main projects in my lab focus on how to prevent relapse to cocaine
in rats. We use conditioned place preference and drug
self-administration procedures to determine how to diminish
drug-associated memories that are thought to cause relapse behavior. We
test a variety of pharmacological agents to alter two phenomena
important for drug-seeking behavior: extinction and reconsolidation.
In our extinction studies, animals are repeatedly exposed to cocaine for
several days and then are taken through a process of extinction
training, a phase during which the drug is no longer available to the
animal. The animal stops seeking the drug until stimuli such as stress,
the drug itself, or simply a reminder of the drug causes the animal to
once again seek out cocaine, a phenomenon similar to relapse in humans.
Extinction training produces an extinction memory that masks the
original cocaine memory but is forgotten during relapse. Thus, we are
trying to understand how to prevent the forgetting of extinction in an
effort to suppress relapse behavior.
In our reconsolidation studies, we attempt to diminish cocaine memories
by manipulating the process of reconsolidation, wherein prior memories
can be recalled and subsequently disrupted with appropriate
pharmacological agents so that only the recalled memory is diminished.
We test specific pharmacological agents to disrupt reconsolidation of
the memories associated with cocaine, thereby suppressing drug-seeking
behavior and relapse.
Other studies focus on using these same models of drug addiction,
exploring the underlying role of circadian rhythms in relapse.
An additional project uses the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, to explore
how methamphetamine exposure alters basic learning and memory processes.
In these animals, we use behavior and electrophysiology to assess these
Barbara A. Sorg, Professor, received her B.S. in biology in 1981 from
Ball State University. In 1987, she earned her Ph.D. in biochemistry
from the University of Maryland. Dr. Sorg has been in Integrative
Physiology and Neuroscience at Washington State University since 1990.
Dr. Sorg is also the Director of the WSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program.
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