Project Title: Addiction: Determining the Neural Implications of Individual Susceptibility
BASIS Advisor: Ryan Grove
Internship Location: University of Maryland
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Donna Calu
19.7 million Americans suffer from addiction without a concrete cure. For many, this susceptibility is wired into genetics, making the individual’s brain more likely to engage in reward seeking behavior. This means certain people are at an increased risk of falling prey to the disease without even taking into consideration stressful environment triggers. When all these overwhelming factors add up, it is easy to understand why rehabilitation has only a 30 percent success rate. So how do we solve a problem that is encoded in our bodies to give people a fighting chance at recovery? At the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine I will be working with Dr. Donna Calu to examine exactly how traits affect neural pathways. We will simulate addictive behavior in rats and study their mental processes and behavior. By analyzing their motivation, we hope to isolate the way in which genes influence the neural network. Finding an answer to this puzzle would allow better medical treatments to be implemented and give people a better chance at living a healthier life. Without the heavy influence of genetics, individuals might be able to find healthier methods of coping with their triggers.