Cocaine addiction: a translational study to identify and characterize dysfunctional neural networks


Substance misuse is associated with economic costs equal to cancer, cardiovascular disease or all other psychiatric disorders combined. The illicit substance with the highest societal costs is cocaine. Although the chronic relapsing nature of addictive behaviours suggests a reorganization of neural circuits processing drugs and drug-related stimuli, an integrated understanding is lacking. Now, the present translational research team offers a rare opportunity to characterize, in a coordinated fashion, the relevant features in both humans and a high face validity animal model. In brief, identical functional and anatomical connectivity neuroimaging strategies will be used in humans and rats; studies in the latter will be augmented by in vivo multisite electrophysiological recordings and optogenetic manipulations in behaving animals. Together, we will: 1. Establish a valid translation between rodent and human for addiction-related brain network reorganization, 2. Map transmitter specific neuronal circuits, and 3. Test the contribution of these circuits to the development, expression and inhibition of addiction-like behaviours. Together, this innovative approach increases our ability to identify neurobiological trajectories and novel treatment targets. We are starting with addictions because the societal needs are high, the animal models are best established, and the translational strategies required are most clear; once in place, though the same strategies could be applied to research on other disorders.


Imaging techniques, Gene targeting in the brain, Electrophisiological approaches, Behavioural methodologies, aetiology, substance use disorders

Call topic

Mental Disorders

Proposed runtime

2014 - 2017

Project team

Veronique Deroche-Gamonet (Coordinator)
France (ANR)
Rainer Spanagel
Germany (BMBF)
Marco Leyton
Canada (FRQS)
Cyril Herry
France (ANR)