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Tunctional brain imaging to compare neural responses

Trainee Achievements

Tunctional brain imaging to compare neural responses

One of the factors influencing a person's ability to overcome addictive behavior is how their brain processes reward signals. Variations in the dopamine receptor genes DRD4 and Taq1A have been shown to affect brain responses to reward during periods of abstinence for daily smokers. IGERT student Maggie Sweitzer used functional brain imaging to compare neural responses to a monetary reward vs. a rewarding puff of a cigarette, and has shown, for the first time, that a period of abstinence biases reward processing in favor of smoking. Variations in the Taq1A gene modulated this effect. Sweitzer writes: "I believe the IGERT fellowship has been an integral part of my overall graduate training, and I am excited to continue to build on the foundational skills in genetics and neuroimaging that I learned through this training." She will be pursuing postdoctoral work at Duke University where she will continue her research examining genetic and neuroimaging predicators of smoking behavior.