Neuroscience Doctoral Program

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Christopher M. Olsen, PhD

Assistant Professor
Neuroscience Research Center and 
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology 
ph: (414) 955-7629
fax: (414) 855-6057


Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

Postdoctoral, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine


Research Area: 

Brain mechanisms in drug and non-drug addictive behavior, novelty seeking


Graduate Programs:

Program in Pharmacology and Toxicology, Program in Neuroscience


Drugs of abuse can lead to long-term neuroadaptations that are thought to underlie addictive behavior.  There is also evidence that excessive engagement in rewarding non-drug behaviors can lead to addictive behaviors in human populations (Leeman & Potenza, Psychopharmacology, 2012; Marks, British J Addiction, 1990; Grant et al., Am. J. Drug Alcohol Abuse, 2010).  Functional imaging studies have shown parallel changes in dopamine signaling between human cocaine users and obese subjects (Wang et al., J Addict Disord 2004; Volkow et al., 1990, 1993, 1996), suggesting that neuroadaptations associated with excessive drug abuse may not be unique to drug exposure. 


Research in the Olsen laboratory is aimed at understanding the relationship between drug (e.g. cocaine) and non-drug rewards (e.g. sucrose, novelty seeking) in the context of detrimental behavioral and neural adaptations using mice and rats as model organisms.  Experiments to address this relationship use a variety of in vivo and in vitro techniques including intravenous drug self-administration, transgenic rat and mouse lines, immunohistochemistry, and slice electrophysiology.
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Page Updated 09/02/2014