Wesley (Wes) P. Jordan

Cocaine Sensitization

High doses of cocaine produce a variety of behaviors, including increased activity and stereotyped behaviors like head bobs. Repeatedly giving an animal high doses of cocaine also leads to tolerance, where more and more of this drug of abuse is needed to produce an effect. If animals are given lower doses of cocaine, however, no obvious responses occur to the first dose. If the animal is given this same low dose intermittently, for example once every week, it develops an increased sensitivity to the drug, as seen by increased locomotion and the emergence of head bobs. Because these behaviors emerge only after repeated drug administration, something in the brain must be changing to produce the sensitization. Independent student research projects in my and Dr. Coughlin's labs have examined the role of other drugs in modifying the development and/or expression of cocaine sensitization.