Investigating the neuroscience of addiction and motivation.


Our main research focuses on understanding the biological bases of motivated behavior, with a focus on drug addiction. We use a combination of models that are associated with increased addiction liability, such as that associated with age (i.e. adolescence), naturally-occurring within outbred populations (i.e. inter-individual differences), or induced by exposure to drugs and to stress.

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Recent publications

Lamoureux L, Beverley J, Steiner S, Marinelli M (2023) Methylphenidate with or without fluoxetine triggers reinstatement of cocaine seeking behavior in rats. Neuropsychopharmacology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38086900/

Pomrenze MB, Marinelli M (2021). Love it or leave it: differential modulation of incentive motivation by CRF neurons. Biological  Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2021.03.032 

Gordon-Fennell AG, Gordon-Fennell L, Desaivre S and Marinelli M (2020). The Lateral Preoptic Area and Its Projection to the VTA Regulate VTA Activity and Drive Complex Reward Behaviors. Frontiers in Systems Neurosciencehttps://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2020.581830

Gordon-Fennell AG, Will RG, Ramachandra V, Gordon-Fennell L, Dominguez JM, Zahm DS and Marinelli M (2020). The Lateral Preoptic Area: A Novel Regulator of Reward Seeking and Neuronal Activity in the Ventral Tegmental Area. Frontiers in Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.01433

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Dr. Marinelli

Michela (Micky) Marinelli is an Associate professor of Neuroscience (College of Natural Sciences). She also holds an appointment in the Department of Neurology (Dell Medical School), and courtesy appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Dell Medical School), and in the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology (College of Pharmacy).

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Volunteer courses
Writing workshop for junior faculty, postdocs, and students. Women in Neuroscience summer internship.

Undergraduate courses
NEU 367S (formerly NEU 337), Analytical skepticism. UGS 302 & UGS 303, Young people and drugs.

Upper division courses
Addiction fellowship, the Neurobiology of Addiction. NEU 185 and PGS 185 Responsible Conduct of Science.

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Scientific rigor

Micky Marinelli is dedicated to promoting scientific rigor and critical thinking among students and the scientific community. She teaches courses related to scientific rigor to undegraduate students, medical students, and residents. She also gives talks on the topic, both to the scientific community and the lay public.

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