Neural Basis of Addiction Lab

About the Neural Basis of Addiction Laboratory

Dr. Adriana Alcantara’s research program focuses on elucidating the underlying neural basis of addiction. A major goal of the lab is to identify important genetic and environmental factors that place individuals at risk for substance abuse and related clinical disorders. Those findings can then lead to the development of early prevention programs for those diseases. Her lab combines state-of-the-art behavioral, neuroanatomical and pharmacological procedures that will provide insight into the cellular and molecular basis of compulsive drug intake. Dr. Alcantara’s research program, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), has identified specific cells in the nucleus accumbens, i.e. cholinergic interneurons, as key players in binge alcohol drinking and drug abuse. These cells are reportedly involved in the initiation and maintenance of substance abuse as well as cue-induced relapse. Using electron microscopy to look at the synaptic organization and plasticity of the brain, Dr. Alcantara’s work has also provided insight into the compulsive nature of cocaine addiction and may also explain the long-lasting effects of craving and relapse. Altogether, her research findings may lead to improved genetic, behavioral and pharmacotherapeutic treatments for alcoholism and drug addiction.


  • Adriana Alcantara, P.I.
  • Naomi Inoue, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Melissa Trevino, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Jose Barrera, Undergraduate Research Assistant
  • Angelica Lopez, Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant

Lab contact

Office: Heyne 229C

Office Phone Number: (713) 743-3724