Lukas Sjulson

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York

Cocaine Place Conditioning Strengthens Location-Specific Hippocampal Inputs to the Nucleus Accumbens

12:00 pm, Friday 26 April 2019

Location: Oxford Martin School, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Abstract:  Conditioned place preference (CPP) is a widely used model of addiction-related behavior whose underlying mechanisms are not understood. We used dual-site silicon optoprobe recordings in freely moving mice to examine interactions between the hippocampus and nucleus accumbens in cocaine CPP. We found that CPP was associated with recruitment of D2-positive nucleus accumbens medium spiny neurons to fire in the cocaine-paired location, and this recruitment was driven predominantly by selective strengthening of coupling with hippocampal place cells that encode the cocaine-paired location. These findings suggest that the synaptic potentiation in the accumbens caused by repeated cocaine administration preferentially affects inputs that were active at the time of drug exposure and provide a potential physiological mechanism by which drug use becomes associated with specific environmental contexts.

Biography: Luke Sjulson is Assistant Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He studied neuroscience at Johns Hopkins before completing his MD at Cornell and his PhD at Sloan-Kettering and Yale in the laboratory of Gero Miesenbӧck, where he worked on the development of genetically-encoded voltage indicators. He then completed residency in adult psychiatry at NYU and a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Gordon Fishell and Gyӧrgy Buzsáki, where he studied the role of hippocampus-ventral striatum interactions in cocaine addiction. His research combines behavior, neurophysiology, optical techniques, and computational approaches to study the neural substrates of drug addiction, with the goal of developing novel treatments based on clinical neuromodulation.