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TARC Faculty

Brendan Walker

Department of Psychology (Pullman) – Departmental Page – Walker, Brendan

Alcohol Addiction
Clinical Trials
Co-occurring Disorders/Affective Neuroscience/Addiction
Neural Plasticity and Memory

The Laboratory of Alcoholism and Addictions Neuroscience is attempting to understand the neurobiology of motivational systems and how acute and long-term alcohol (and other drugs of abuse such as heroin or psychostimulants) impact brain reward systems to promote increased drug seeking and consumption. We are currently evaluating the neuroadaptations and plasticity-dependent processes produced by chronic alcohol and drug exposure that promote enhanced intake of these abused compounds. As an extension of this work, we also focus on the recruitment of negative affective systems (i.e., negative emotional states resembling depression or anxiety) during dependence that contribute to excessive alcohol and drug intake, and we are investigating differences in impulsivity produced by chronic alcohol and drug exposure. An additional focus of the lab is on animal models of adolescent alcohol and drug exposure that impact adult alcohol and drug intake. Once enough information is gathered about the nature of the brain’s response to chronic alcohol and drug exposure, that information can be used to help develop pharmacotherapies for the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction. We are currently heavily committed to pharmacotherapeutic development of kappa opioid / dynorphin targets to treat alcohol dependence.