Sussex Neuroscience

Dr Bryan Singer

BryanIndividual variation in synaptic neurobiology underlying incentive motivation and addiction


Effective treatment options and long-lasting recovery from substance use disorders have been elusive because of the propensity of drug users to relapse into reward-seeking and -taking. The reinstatement of these behaviours is often precipitated by re-exposure to conditioned stimuli (CS), or cues, associated with drug use. Importantly, there is considerable individual variation in the degree to which cues exert motivational control over behaviour. Therefore, we need to develop pharmacological and behavioural treatments for addiction that are tailored to each specific individual’s needs, reducing cue-evoked drug craving and potential relapse into substance misuse. Accordingly, our research investigates addiction, impulsivity, learning and memory (both in people and animals). We are concentrating our studies on the following three questions: 1) Can we develop new translational animal models of substance use disorder that reflect how people procure and take drugs, and how variation in these patterns of drug-use impact potential for relapse? 2) Does variation in dopamine neurotransmission and dendritic signalling contribute to how strongly reward (drug or non-drug) associated cues motivate behaviour? 3) Can we identify variability in Pavlovian cue-motivated behaviour in people, and apply this knowledge to preventing and treating various adverse health conditions?

Please see the Singer lab page for further details and a full list of publications