Grant: $226,321 - National Institutes of Health - May. 21, 2009
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Award Description: This project seeks to understand the neural basis involved in implicit associative processes through the imaging (fMRI) of drug-relevant memory associations. Complex associative learning and memory processes influenced by reinforcing drug use result in neurobiological consequences that include the strengthening of motivationally-relevant associative memories, which, in turn, affect continued drug use. These drug-related associative effects have been shown to consistently predict level of drug use. The application of associative memory concepts from basic science research suggests that one’s behavior at any moment is governed primarily by the current pattern of activation in memory, and that activation is often primarily an implicit, or relatively automatic process. To observe differences in neural activity of drug-relevant associative effects, the proposed project will involve a between subjects comparison of marijuana dependent individuals and a group of healthy controls during performance on a marijuana-Implicit Association Test (IAT). In addition, a within subjects comparison will provide information relevant to the neural activation of memory associations on compatible and incompatible trials of the IAT to help determine neural correlates of the IAT effect. The proposed work is the first study to observe differences in neural activity between marijuana dependent individuals and non-users on an indirect test of associations. Indirect assessments of drug-relevant associations, like the IAT, are rooted in associative learning principles, with associative strength being a key determinant of information processing expressed as memory biases that influence behavior. By eliciting activation of associative drug-relevant memories through performance on this task, it is possible to increase our understanding of individual differences in associative structures that influence drug use behavior. This fMRI project will complement and extend findings derived through behavioral measures. Addiction is a progressive, relapsing condition and once established, it is difficult to overcome without continual intervention. If understanding the neural mechanisms involved in these under-studied but influential implicit processes helps to expand our knowledge of influences affecting continued drug abuse, then this work is indeed significant, and ultimately can help in the development of risk reduction and treatment intervention components.
Project Description: During this first quarter of funding, we focused on essential logistical and assessment issues relevant to imaging of marijuana associations with the Implicit Association Test (IAT). We reviewed the cues found to be most predictive in our prior work, to be used for this study. Our imaging protocol (marijuana IAT) is now programmed with the best cues and is ready to be tested with the MRI In addition, our behavioral computerized assessments have been programmed and are being finalized. We have applied for a Certificate of Confidentiality from NIDA and are currently gearing up for data collection to begin as soon as we obtain the certificate and final approval from the IRB at USC. Consistent with one of the ARRA primary purpose 'to preserve and create jobs , staff have been hired as proposed. We have increased the percent time of Amy Custer, project manager, 10% so that she is almost full time. This increase in percentage time allows her to attend a Masters in Public Health program through our institution to improve her prospect for continued grant supported projects and to branch out on her own if she chooses. A research assistant, Nathanael Napolitano, has been hired 20% time to help screen and recruit subjects. This position also helps him to deflect some of his educational costs while learning more about public health during his tenure as a Masters’ student through our school of community and global health. Finally, we have hired Lin Xiao, Ph.D., as a research associate through our subcontract with USC. Dr. Xiao is instrumental in implementing the imaging protocol.
Jobs Summary: Prime Recipient Retained a Project Manager .10 FTE Prime recipient created a Research Assistant .20 FTE Subrecipient retained a Research Associate .20FTE (Total jobs reported: 1)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on May. 21, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.
Funds from this award have been disbursed to sub-grantees. Click here to see a list of sub-grantees.