The focus of our research is to further our understanding of the maladaptive behavioral changes that accompany alcohol abuse , drug addiction and numerous neuropsychiatric disorders. Current theories have proposed that early or repeated alcohol exposure can lead to progressive loss of cortically-mediated executive control. As top-top down control is lost, habitual alcohol or drug seeking comes to dominate the behavioral repertoire leading to decreased quality of life. If this maladaptive shift in behavior could be prevented or reversed, it would provide an important therapeutic tool for combating addiction. Our research focuses on developing models that allow us to investigate the role of both genetic factors and molecular mechanisms in mediating executive control behaviors, both before and after drug and alcohol exposure. One potential mechanism of interest due to its established role in the neuro-plasticity underlying learning and memory is the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR). We are currently exploring how NMDAR subunit composition and receptor expression is altered by alcohol exposure. Another major focus of the lab is understanding the optimal organization of neuronal firing in corticostriatal circuits in vivo, and how alterations in NMDAR may disrupt these patterns, leading to loss of executive control and poorer functional outcome.