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TARC Faculty

Jaak Panksepp

Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience (Pullman) – Departmental Page
Panksepp, Jaak

Co-occurring Disorders/Affective Neuroscience/Addiction

The Panksepp Lab’s interests in addiction are related to a better understanding of the underlying emotional and motivational systems that mediate normal behaviors, as via the recruitment of the general purpose SEEKING (i.e., “Brain Reward”) System of the brain and the role of social bonding/attachment mechanisms as an affective foundation for opioid addiction. Our goal for preclinical models is to develop ways to directly measure the affective dynamics that underlie addictive urges. Thus, we and our collaborators have revolutionized the use of circuit-based models for understanding psychiatric and addictive problems. For instance, it is clear that many natural primal affective processes operate through addictive behavior patterns, including valued ones such as social bonding, maternal care and sexual urges. In rodent models, one can utilize natural behavior patterns, especially emotional vocalizations (ultrasonics in rodents), that “condition” spontaneously in most addiction paradigms, providing direct readouts of where animals are in affective space during the appetitive phase of addiction as well as the negative-affective, opponent processes phases that further sustain addictive urges. Our view is that development of better therapeutics for addictive and other psychiatric disorders requires taking the emotional feelings of animals more seriously than has been traditional in the field.