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Cellular Mechanisms Behind Alcohol Abuse and Binge Drinking Behavior

Live Date:5/5/2021

Duration:60 minutes

The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that rapidly brings blood alcohol concentration to intoxicating levels of 0.08% (i.e. 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter) or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming about 4 or 5 drinks in 2 hours. This form of consumption affects primarily late adolescents and young adults. Because the brain of individuals in this age group is still developing, it is highly susceptible to the detrimental effects of repeated alcohol consumption on behavior. 

In this webinar, Dr. Gilles Martin will discuss the physiology of the nucleus accumbens, a forebrain region believed to mediate the rewarding properties of all drugs of abuse, including alcohol. He will examine the cellular mechanisms through which binge drinking alters the neuronal excitability of medium spiny neurons, the only projecting neurons in this brain region that control behavior. In addition, Dr. Martin will present the combination of techniques used in his laboratory for this research, including in vitro electrophysiological recordings, optogenetics, calcium imaging and behavioral measurement in several transgenic mouse models.

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Gilles Martin, PhD

Associate Professor

University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. Gilles Martin's research focuses on understanding how binge drinking alters the physiology of the nucleus accumbens, a brain region responsible for alcohol rewarding properties and addiction. His lab combines a variety of techniques to to study alcohol abuse at the cellular and behavioral levels including patch-clamp recording, in vivo and in vitro optogenetics, behavioral assays and in vivo imaging.
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What are your research interests? Please select all that apply:
Alcohol, alcoholism or the cellular effects of alcohol
Drugs of abuse (other than alcohol)
Addiction, withdrawal, tolerance, etc.
Learning and memory
Neuronal circuitry
Which of the following techniques and research tools do you use? Please select all that apply:
Transgenic rodent models
Calcium imaging
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