Gambling, Drugs and Junk-Food 399

This intensive laboratory course provides in-depth training on the experimental methods of behavioral neuroscience of motivation and reward using rodent research techniques. We will review contemporary studies with a particular focus on gambling, diet-induced obesity and drug addiction. Some of the models examined in more detail will focus on the role of reward uncertainty and the concept of loss in gambling, the individual differences in the attraction to reward cues in subjects prone to obesity versus those that are resistant (with a particular emphasis on prenatal and developmental exposure to high-fat diets), and finally the individual differences in the resistance to adverse consequences in models of intense desire and addiction (such as the conflict-based model and Pavlovian autoshaping). Students will learn how to handle and inject rats in a behavioral neuroscience research setting, and how to measure reward and motivation using operant (skinner) boxes to carry out tasks such as progressive ratio, Pavlovian conditioned approach, conditioned reinforcement, and loco-motor sensitization. They will be exposed and become familiar with several different forms of these research techniques including the hardware and software necessary for this type of research, and will be encouraged to adapt existing behavioral paradigms to answer new questions.