Monica M Luciana
- Liberal Arts
The focus of my research is to examine brain/behavior relationships in adults and children and the neuroplasticity of neural circuitry during development, as a function of substance use, and in the context of psychopathology. Specifically, I am interested in the neurobiology of executive functions that are mediated by the brain's prefrontal cortex, including working memory, planning, and emotional control as well as reward processing. My research program has utilized several approaches to examine these processes: (a) Pharmacological studies of normal adults: Adults are administered drugs or natural compounds that activate selected neurotransmitter systems in the brain (e.g., dopamine and serotonin). While under the influence of these manipulations, cognition and emotional functions are examined to determine how the transmitters affect specific behaviors; (b) Studies of clinical populations; (c) Developmental studies in adolescents. The development of executive functions, incentive motivational processes, and their neural underpinnings is being studied through several longitudinal MRI studies in healthy adolescents, young adults, and in individuals who abuse substances. The University of Minnesota is a site for the newly launched ABCD Consortium project on which I am a PI in collaboration with the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research. My works is funded by NIDA and NIAAA.