Michael A. Nader, PhD
Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology
Nader is an expert on how drug abuse affects the brain. For nearly 30 years, Nader has studied cocaine addiction with grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. His team’s research is unique because Wake Forest's non-human primates self-administer drugs and live in social groups. This allows researchers to study how the reinforcing actions of cocaine affect 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. His group has examined sex differences in vulnerability to cocaine abuse and found significant differences in how social rank (being dominant or subordinate) affects brain function and cocaine reinforcement in males and females. Nader and colleagues are looking at the effect of long-term cocaine use on dopamine receptors, behavior, brain function and cognition. His goal is to identify drugs that not only fight cocaine addiction but also enhance cognitive performance.
Keywordsdrug abuse, nonhuman primate models of cocaine abuse, brain imaging, behavioral pharmacology, behavioral neuroscience, neuropharmacology addiction, addiction to prescription drugs