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Current Ongoing Projects

Optimization of the 5-choice continuous performance test to reveal a parietal-anterior cingulate-claustrum circuit underlying cognitive control and attention

Project Number: 1R01MH134175-01; PI: Young JW

Delineating an anterior cingulate-claustrum-parietal cortical circuit underlying cognitive control and attention No treatments targeting the alleviation of cognitive dysfunction exist for psychiatric patients, and numerous clinical trials have failed likely due to the use of targets not validated from circuits specific to affected cognitive domains. To address this challenge, the circuits underlying cognitive control and attention in patients need to be delineated with evidence that they are pharmacologically manipulable. By combining contemporary neuroscience techniques with the 5-choice continuous performance test that is consistent with challenges used in humans, we will determine the neural circuitry underlying cognitive control and attention to delineate the mechanistic underpinnings and pharmacological effects on these circuits that drive behavior.

Cross-species studies of smoking effects on cognition and neuroinflammation in HIV

Project Number: R01DA044909; PIs: Young JW/Brody AL

The proposed project will determine the effects of HIV and cigarette smoking on both brain function (cognition) and inflammation in humans using reverse-translated behavioral tests and positron emission tomography respectively.  Similar studies in mice will expand upon our human aim to determine the directionality of effects of chronic nicotine and HIV-relevant proteins on the same cognitive and neuroinflammatory measures, as well as provide exploratory receptor expression profile changes.  Hence, this project will provide more detailed mechanistic interactive effects of HIV and nicotine and identify potential targets to improve the lives of those with HIV.

Immunometabolic gene expression profiles associated with depressed mood and behavioral domains in people with HIV

Project Number: R01MH128869; PIs: Young JW/Ellis R

Depression remains common in people with HIV (PWH) despite viral suppression; it has important adverse consequences including poor engagement in HIV care and poor health-related quality of life, and it is often treatment-resistant. We will characterize specific gene pathways relevant to depression, potentially leading to future treatments for depression in PWH.

Translational studies of cannabis administration, cognition, and the endocannabinoid system in HIV

Project Number: R01DA051295; PIs: Young JW/Minassian A

People living with HIV (PLWH) use cannabis more than the general population, but its potential beneficial/negative effects on the brain have not been investigated. Here, we will determine whether cannabis has beneficial or negative effects on cognitive functions strongly linked to HIV risk behaviors in PLWH compared with healthy participants. We will then utilize an animal model of HIV to determine the directionality of effects of acute and chronic administration, as well as withdrawal from such cannabinoid treatments using consistent behavioral tests.

Promoting diversity, inclusion, and professional development in the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society

Project Number: R13MH126604; PI: Young JW

Improving brain and behavior neuroscience is vital given the knowledge that psychiatric disorders are brain-based disorders that are solely diagnosed by behavioral abnormalities. The International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS) has long been dedicated to hosting meetings to bring together such researchers to share ideas and network, as well as train the wide breadth of diverse next-generation neuroscientists. At the 2022 meeting, not only will we fund 20-30 travel awardees, but also host a range of educational workshops to enhance the trainees' experiences, including Improving Inclusivity, Meet the Professionals, Publishing Workshop, and Using Social Media in Neuroscience.

Cannabis use and the endocannabinoid system in bipolar disorder

Project Number: R01DA43535; PIs: Young JW/Perry W

Cannabis use is highly prevalent in people with Bipolar Disorder (BD) and likely results in significant cognitive and behavioral disturbances in a population already vulnerable to cognitive deficits. This application will study the impact of chronic cannabis use, as well as the effects of acute administration of the principal constituents of cannabis on relevant cognition and brain levels of endogenous cannabinoids and the neurotransmitter dopamine. Parallel studies in rodent models of BD  will enhance the understanding of the neurobiology of cannabis use from an acute, chronic, and withdrawal deterministic perspective, and may ultimately lead to novel treatment targets.

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