Michael A. Nader, PhD
Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology
Nader is an expert on how drugs of abuse affect the brain and has studied the problem of cocaine addiction for more than 20 years with grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The cocaine abuse research by Nader and his colleagues is unique in that the Wake Forest primates are the only ones in the world that give themselves the drug and live in social groups, allowing researchers to study how the reinforcing actions of cocaine are affecting social behavior and the brain. Nader's research combines positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to examine levels of dopamine and nicotine receptor activity, as well as glucose activity in the brain. Most recently, Nader's group has been examining sex differences in vulnerability to cocaine abuse and found significant sex differences in how social rank (being dominant or subordinate) affects brain function and cocaine reinforcement. Nader and colleagues are looking at the effect of long-term cocaine use on dopamine receptors, behavior, brain function and cognition. Nader is trying to identify drugs that could be used in fighting cocaine addiction that can also enhance cognitive performance and possess the least undesirable side effects.
Keywordsdrug abuse, nonhuman primate models of cocaine abuse, brain imaging, behavioral pharmacology, behavioral neuroscience, neuropharmacology addiction, addiction to prescription drugs