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Local research fellow discusses neurobiology of addiction at GRCC

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Dr. Singer presents his lecture on the connection between addiction habits in animals and humans.

By Joseph Hileski – Collegiate Staff

Dr. Bryan Singer, a research fellow at the University of Michigan, spoke about his experimentations giving rats cocaine at the Psychology Lecture Series Feb. 16, at the Grand Rapids Community College Applied Technology Center.

Singer lectured for 90 minutes giving a detailed overview of his intravenous administration of cocaine to the lab rats. He studied the dopamine levels in the rat’s brains, using a device connected to the rat’s head, that sensed the electrochemical levels of dopamine being activated in the brain from the use of the cocaine.

He made the rats solve puzzles to get more cocaine. There were three puzzles that needed to be solved in different combinations to gain access to the cocaine.

Dr. Bryan Singer teaches and studies about the neurobiology of learning, memory, and motivation at the University of Michigan
Dr. Bryan Singer teaches and studies about the neurobiology of learning, memory, and motivation at the University of Michigan Nathan Bidwell | The Collegiate Live

“I argue that since their behavior changes constantly it can’t be a habit,” Singer said. “Not everyone who experiments with drugs actually becomes an addict. Not everyone transitions from casual drug use to becoming an addict.”

When asked what he hoped to achieve with his research, Singer said, “to develop better models of drug addiction that can translate to the human condition more easily so we can come up with better treatments in the future.”

Many students asked Singer about the welfare and safety of the rats used in his experiments after the lecture.
“The rats actually enjoy playing with the puzzles, even before the experiments began,” Singer said.