Nestler Lab

Laboratory of Molecular Psychiatry

Behavioral Models of Addiction & Depression

To understand the relationship between a particular drug- or stress-induced molecular change and addiction or depression, we study animals, in which the molecular change is mimicked or blocked, in behavioral models of these disorders. Accordingly, our research group maintains a Behavioral Testing Core Facility, which offers a wide battery of behavioral tests in rats and mice. In addition to assessing the general neurological function of the animal, we have tests that measure drug and non-drug reward (including sexual and feeding behavior), depression- and anxiety-like behavior, and cognitive function. More sophisticated tests of addiction, including drug self-administration and animal models of relapse, are available in several collaborating laboratories. Together, we can formulate highly specific hypotheses concerning how a change in a particular protein within a given brain reward region causes certain aspects of addiction or depression.