Christopher M. Olsen, PhD

Christopher M. Olsen, PhD

Assistant Professor
Neuroscience Research Center and Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

(414) 955-7629 | Fax: (414) 955-6057


  • PhD, 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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