In the Cognitive Psychopharmacology Lab, research examines the neurobiological basis of pathological gambling as well as similarities and differences with substance use disorders. Researchers use drugs that target specific neurotransmitters and receptor sites (e.g., dopamine, D2 receptors) to reveal their impact on processes linked with addictive motivation in human research participants.
The overarching hypothesis is that cognitive processes like attention, memory and inhibitory control mediate the effects of addiction-related stimuli – e.g., priming doses, conditioned cues or stress – on motivation for gambling and drugs. Using validated cognitive science tasks, the research team can investigate whether experimentally-induced alterations in neurotransmission modify these processes and whether the effects differ for gamblers, substance abusers and healthy volunteers. This paradigm is also used to test potential medications for pathological gambling and identify factors (e.g., trait impulsivity) that predict medication response. Recently, the lab has begun to explore the effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on addictive motivation and behaviour in collaboration with CAMH scientists who are experts in this area.
Head: Dr. Martin Zack
Bindiya Chugani, Graduate Student
Kelly Smart, Graduate Student
Daniel Tatone, Graduate Student