Area of Study:
My primary research interests involve investigating how environmental acoustic stimulation and ambient temperature affects the neurochemical and reinforcing properties of MDMA. MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is a popular drug often taken at clubs or raves. Raves and clubs offer environments that are rich in sensory stimulation, such as loud electronic dance music and flashing lights that may enhance the positive and subjective effects of the drug. These distinctive elements of the drug-taking environment could play a major role in the primary reinforcement of the drug, as well as influence the negative consequences associated with MDMA. Therefore, I am using a conditioned place preference and self-administration experiment to investigate behavior parameters of rats that may be altered as result of taking MDMA while exposed to music, white noise, and no additional sound, as well as increased ambient temperatures. In addition, I measure changes in nucleus accumbens dopamine and serotonin levels by in vivo microdialysis while the rats self-administer MDMA in the presence of the various acoustic stimuli.